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KernelSU provides seamless kernel-assisted root access for GKI devices

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Among the Android mod circles, there is no app more recognizable than Magisk. It has a reputation as the de-facto standard for rooting your Android phone, tablet, and anything. While Magisk has managed to establish itself as the successor to Chainfire’s SuperSU, the aftermarket development community has stumbled upon multiple root solutions during the transition. Apart from the most notable, eg LineageOS su Or an XDA Recognized Developer Fusun‘s superuserWe also came across unique apps, such as Kernel Assisted Superuser (KernelSU) by Jason Donenfeld AKA XDA Recognized Developer zx2c4.

Unlike other traditional rooting methods, KernelSU has built-in the ability to root in the underlying Linux kernel of Android itself. However, it never received mainstream traction because there was no easy way to patch the device’s existing kernel for the stock boot image on the fly. Not only did it need to be integrated during the kernel build process, but the lack of a root manager application also made it difficult for ordinary users. Having said that, Google’s strategy to force Generic Kernel Image has basically removed a major hurdle for the adoption of the PC kernel update mechanism, which means that cooking a batch of boot images that do not depend on the device is not a difficult task anymore. Planning for this possibility, Senior XDA Member Wishawthe developer of VirtualXposed and Taichi, has now come up with a new iteration of the kernel-based root solution for Android.

Adapting a GKI-compliant KernelSU by Weishu has a number of advantages over the initial release. Broader compatibility is a key factor, as every Android device running kernel version 5.10 or higher must be compatible with this project. Moreover, the developer offers a dedicated root management app, which allows you to easily toggle superuser access for installed apps. Last but not least, this KernelSU variant also supports overlay-based modification, so you can make modifications to read-only partitions without actually refactoring them.

KernelSU manager app running on Google Pixel 6a

For GKI 2.0 compliant devices, you can root them by downloading a suitable pre-patched boot image from the project’s Buildbot and flashing it, provided you can unlock the bootloader. Kernel builders can also compile images themselves and even integrate KernelSU for some non-GKI kernels (with some restrictions) as well. To learn more about rooting your Android smartphone with KernelSU, take a look at our upcoming tutorial.

It’s worth noting that weishu’s KernelSU is still a work-in-progress solution, so you might run into random bugs and vulnerabilities here and there if you rely heavily on root-enabled apps. But if you’re a kernel or ROM developer, or if you’re done with the new tool, check out the project homepage and GitHub repository to learn more.

KernelSU from Wishaw: website || github repo