I was reading comments on this website, and I stumbled upon such an expression:

Roots and hacks and whatnot just to get a custom screensaver.

I tried to google it, but I found just a couple of examples of this phrase used in sentences and no explanation.

Could anybody explain me the meaning and, perhaps, the origin of this phrase?

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Those two words are normally found together when you talk about accessing internals of mobile OS (operating system: Android or iOS etc.). Also, just to make it clear, it is not a phrase or an idiom. Those are two individual words.

root (You root a mobile phone by rooting process)

"Rooting is a process that allows you to attain root access to the Android operating system code (the equivalent term for Apple devices id [sic] jailbreaking). It gives you privileges to modify the software code on the device or install other software that the manufacturer wouldn’t normally allow you to." link

hack

It is a tweak or a setting(s) which allows you to access features more than what manufacturer wants you to access.

Hope it is clear now!

  • 22
    The use of "root" itself has a complicated history, involving the concept of a highly privileged "superuser", which standard unix terminology calls "root", possibly due to being the only entity with access to the lowest level (i.e root) of the tree of directories in the computer file system. linfo.org/root.html – origimbo Aug 17 at 12:48
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    The use of "hack" has a similarly complicated history, and more correctly means "A 'quick and dirty' solution to a problem." More recently it has come to mean obtaining illegal or unauthorized access to a computer system. – bendl Aug 21 at 15:23
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    @bendl illegal and unauthorised access to computer system or network is called Cracking. Hacking is accessing hidden features. You can get a job as hacker in a company, but not as a cracker. – ubi hatt Aug 21 at 15:57
  • @ubihatt technically true, but to the average person (and most dictionaries), hacking is gaining access to a computer system – bendl Aug 21 at 16:51
  • @bendl Yes, there are certain words which are loosely defined in most of the dictionaries :) – ubi hatt Aug 21 at 19:55

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