Root the Sony Xperia E1

The Sony Xperia E1 (D2004 or D2005) – a “music phone” – is a burner phone that was easy to root with the one-click Towelroot tool.  An update in early 2015 broke the Towelroot-enabled root.  This is how I used the one-click Root Genius to get root back, and then replace the Kinguser superuser tool with Chainfire’s SuperSu.

Re-Root the Xperia E1

Towelroot is an elegant one-click tool.  Literally, you download and run the program, click the button once and you’re done.  It either roots your phone or fails.  Until the Sony upgrade, this worked great on both E1 phones.

Some sharp users figured out how to roll back the Android version, re-root, and then apply the upgrade themselves without losing root.  While I’m pretty comfortable with rooting and modifying my Android devices, I wasn’t sure how much time this would take.  I decided to live with the lack of root until a point came where I could find another one-click option.

I came across someone who’d rooted an E1 with Root Genius recently and gave it a shot.  It failed the first time because I was missing the necessary ADB USB drivers for the Xperia E1.  If you need them, you can get them from Androxyde‘s Flashtool Github site – you need the ones for the Shuang board.  Once I’d installed the drivers, it worked immediately and rooted the phone.  It loaded the Kinguser root tool and my root privileges were back.

Why Root Anyway?

When you root your Android device, you take full control of the system.  The root user is the power user on a Linux system.  In my case, there were two tools that I use that benefit from root.  The first is ES File Explorer, which allows me to uninstall bloatware (and the Sony Xperia phones are LOADED with junk) as well as move files around on the device, to and from my local NAS, and to cloud services.  The other is the AVAST antivirus tool, but it’s the firewall that relies on root.  This means that I can block the ability of apps to connect to the Internet without me wanting them too.  It *was* called Avast Mobile Security but the URL is now 404 on Google Play.  If it’s gone away, I’ll revert to AFWall+ or another open source firewall.

Get Super Su Back

What I really wanted was to return to SuperSu as my root tool, though.  I like how it works and I trusted it.  It can be challenging to swap superuser tools.  Normally, you can download a new version of SuperSu from Google Play and it has the option in the settings to replace other superuser tools. I tried this but it wouldn’t remove Kinguser.

Then I found this tutorial and script from W0lfdroid that, using a Terminal Emulator app, allows you to type two commands at the command line to remove it.  It took me a few tries but eventually I was able to get it working.  I initially unzipped it – using ES File Explorer, right on the phone – and moved the /mrw folder out of the /sdcard folder.  I didn’t realize that was a requirement.  So the first time it failed.

The second time, with the /sdcard/mrw path correct, it worked and started up Supe Su.  Unfortunately, while SuperSu said it was successful, both at installing and removing Kinguser, it wasn’t.  I found Kinguser still there and it was granting SuperSu rights.  A reboot just left Kinguser in place.  So I deleted/uninstalled Kinguser and re-ran W0lfdroid’s script.  This time it was successful and, when I rebooted, SuperSu was my root tool.

I’m torn about what to do the next time Sony sends out an upgrade.  On the one hand, there are security issues like Stagefright to be concerned about if you let your operating system lag.  On the other hand, based on the way I use my phone (and blocking texts is one aspect), I’d almost rather forego a Sony update that is full of a bunch of junk.