Research in Motion’s tablet runs software based on the QNX operating system. Rooting it provides a user with escalated privileges, which is a fancy way of saying you can access files, folders, and settings that would otherwise be unavailable.
Hackers have been rooting Android phones and tablets as well as jailbreaking iOS devices for ages, but this appears to be the first full root for the BlackBerry PlayBook. It’s based on an exploit discovered by @xpvqs, and since BlackBerry maker Research in Motion places a heavy emphasis on the enterprise market, I suspect the company will patch the security hole pretty quickly… once RIM developers figure out what exploit was used to root the tablet.
Wade calls the root method “dingleberry,” and he plans to release tools soon that will let anyone root the tablet. It provides an “untethered” root, which means you can safely reboot your device without losing any capabilities — but the next time you install an operating system update from Research in Motion you’ll probably lose root access.
RIM has been working hard to get the PlayBook tablet into customers’ hands over the past few weeks. The tablet still carries a list price of $499 and up, but you can pick one up for as little as $189 at the moment.
That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to turn the PlayBook into a $189 Android tablet anytime soon though. The tablet’s bootloader is locked, which means that it will only run a signed operating system from Research in Motion. There are ways to overcome locked bootloaders, but it’s much harder to replace an operating system with custom ROMs if you have a locked bootloader than if its unlocked.