Rooting an Alcatel Fire E 6015x
« Monday, April 27, 2015 »

alcatel firefoxos root

I recently bought a new phone as I broke my Nexus4 screen and repairing the screen would be as expensive or more expensive than buying a FireE. As I'm quite interested in FirefoxOS, I decided it would be much more worth it to get this phone. It doesn't much worry me that the current ecosystem on FirefoxOS is empty. As the platform is new, it feels like fresh air. There is a lot to be done. What we can see from FirefoxOS 1.3 is quite pleasant.

What's really amazing about FirefoxOS is that your web browser becomes an IDE. And your phone is pretty much just like a browser window that you can debug and inspect. But to get the full power over your phone, it becomes necessary to have the root access. Without root, you cannot enable debugging of internal applications. Without it, you cannot develop easily applications for Firefox1.3 that access the camera. The camera WebAPI is limited to internal applications on FxOS 1.3 and below.

That said, on the alcatel FireE, it is pretty easy to gain root access. First, you need to a custom recovery image. As of now, it is possible to boot a CWM recovery image for the Alcatel 6014x. Technically the main difference between the two phone is that the 6014x is on Android and 6015x on FirefoxOS. Funnily the 6015x also has 3 buttons on the bottom of the screen yet only one is vsible.

To do so, you have to connect your phone to your computer and make sure that the device is visible. You can check using the following command. It should show a list of devices attached to your computer.

adb devices

Then do this to reboot the device in the bootloader.

adb reboot bootloader

To check that your device is really in the bootloader, you can use the fastboot command to check if the device is in fastboot mode.

fastboot devices

If the devices is present we can move on to the next step. We have to flash a new recovery image that will allow us to sideload a SuperSU binary.

fastboot flash recovery my_recovery.img

Reboot your device in the new recovery image. You can reboot your phone as usual and then do adb reboot recovery. When you're in the clockworkmod recovery menu, select the intall zip menu with the volume buttons and select the menu with the power button. In the next menu, select install zip from sideload. Then enter the following command on your computer:

adb sideload

When this is installed, you should now have access to root from adb. When opening a shell to your phone using adb shell, enter the command: su. Ifthe symbol in the shell prompt changes from “$” to “#”, it means that you're now an admin. If the command fails or if the symbol didn't change, it means that something went wrong.

When you have root access to your device, it gives a bit you a bit more access to your phone. For example, we can now have access to profile files that will let us debug privileged app on the phone using the Firefox WebIDE. In order to do that, you have to do that manually using the following tutorial on Mozilla Developper Network. I'm not so certain yet on this, but if you follow the next step, it might not be necessary to manually edit preferences.

Giving root access to ADB

I managed to build a custom version of adb. I then packaged it in a new boot image. The boot image has the new adbd binary and two preferences changed.

default.prop: = 0
ro.debuggable = 1

Instead of the old values: = 1
ro.debuggable = 0

Reboot your phone in recovery and flash the boot image using the following command:

fastboot flash boot boot_root.img

When connecting to your phone with adb, you should already be connected with the root user. If you do the following command:

adb root

It should tell you that adb is already started with root access.

Once It's done, reboot your phone as usual. Connect it to your computer and open firefox. Open the WebIDE and make sure that your phone is connected as a Runtime. Open the menu “Runtime/runtime info”. You should see something similar to ADB is root: yes and you should be able to press on the button: “Request higher privileges”.

When modified the preferences manually or using the button “Request higher privileges”, you should see something similar to this in the runtime info window.

DevTools restricted privileges: yes

Now you should have complete root access on your phone. It means that you will be able to compile a new version of FirefoxOS or that you can debug certified apps using the WebIDE.

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Copyright © 2015 Loïc Faure-Lacroix