Or: When is a Kindle not a Kindle?
Yesterday, I purchased a Kindle Fire from a chap selling it on Craigslist.
That is not remarkable. This is.
That’s right, it is now an Android Tablet, thanks to a wonderful hack that I recently discovered. Some very bright people discovered that it is possible to Install Android 4.2.1 — known to aficionados as “Jelly Bean” — on the Kindle Fire.
This is totally legal – the Android operating system is Open Source, though I am sure that Amazon does not like it at all. You see, the Kindle Fire was sold at a loss to entice folks to buy all their stuff through Amazon. So Amazon installed put a customized version of Android on it, to make it difficult for you to go anywhere else.
This hack only applies to the Mark 1 model, released in September 2011, and sold until September 2012. It does not work on the Mark 2 version, which has a faster processor and more memory. The process took about an hour, but half of that was reading, downloading files and installing drivers
It’s a three-step process.
- First you replace the Bootloader. This is a bootstrap program that starts the machine, similar to your PC’s BIOS.
- The second stage is “flashing recovery”. the Recovery Partition – this is a special program that allows you to recover from problems without booting the full OS.
- Finally you replace the operating system itself.
- Download The new ROM and Google Apps (GAPPS) and copy them to Kindle Fire External Partition.
- Download Kindle Fire Utility (KFU)
- Unzip KFU, install KF drivers,
- Plug in your Kindle Fire (KF). It should show up as an external drive. Copy ROM and GAPPS that Drive
- Run KFU
- Install FireFireFire bootloader. KF will Reboot.
- Install Recovery partition (I used TWRP). KF will Reboot
- Backup Recovery/Reboot into TWRP
- Backup Old system (optional, but it gives you a way back if you ever want it)
- WIPE/Factory Reset
- “Install”. You have the option to “queue” installs. I added both – ROM first and GAPPS second, then “Flash”
- Reboot System. First-time bootup takes about five minutes, as it has a lot to think about. Subsequent reboots are much quicker.
First impressions are that this thing is fast, smooth and stable — a poor man’s Nexus 7. Of course the N7 more memory, has twice as much storage, two extra processor cores, slightly higher resolution, Bluetooth, camera etc, but this has most of the functionality at less than half the price, which makes it almost disposable.