The 7″ Kindle Fire HD has been Rooted
Yesterday I was the first to report that the KFHD likely had a locked bootloader, a detail which might make hacking the device difficult. But as I learned today that doesn’t make it impossible.
A reader tipped me to a post over on Android Police. They’re reporting that the KFHD has been rooted using an exploit originally developed for the Transformer Prime.
I have not tested the hack myself but it seems relatively straightforward. As a first step you’ll need to download and the install the Android SDK on your computer. Next you’ll have to download the required files, unZIP them, and then use ADB to perform the hack. Your tablet is also going to have to be plugged into the USB port while you’re attempting the hack.
Once you’ve hacked your KFHD you will have the option of installing apps which require root. This isn’t something the average user will need, but it is the first step towards giving the KFHD all sorts of new features that aren’t Amazon approved, including getting rid of the exiting home screen and the annoying ads on the lock screen. But there’s also a better than even chance that in the next firmware update Amazon will fix the exploit that this hack needs, and I bet it will be gone before the larger 8.9″ KFHD is shipped in November.
If you’re wondering how this was possible with the locked bootloader, the answer is simple. They have little to do with each other. Rooting an Android tablet means that you have admin level access of the device. You can change setting and install apps not approved by the manufacturer.
The locked bootloader will only impact your shenanigans the next time you reboot the tablet. It
will reset some or all of the settings changed after you rooted the tablet, and it is also the first stumbling block on the road to installing another Android firmware on the tablet like Cyanogen Mod.
Brad Linder September 17, 2012 um 5:55 pm
Actually the locked bootloader won’t do anything at all when you reboot the tablet. It just loads the operating system. If you’ve changed settings or files, it will leave them all in place…
unless you’ve accidentally deleted important system files, in which case you might be out of luck (and the locked bootloader can be a pain in the behind, because it prevents you from performing a nandroid backup or restore or re-installing the operating system if you can’t boot into the Kindle Fire OS).
Nate Hoffelder September 17, 2012 um 5:58 pm
Syn September 17, 2012 um 6:35 pm
I would do this if it let me install what I want, but I’m sure Amazon will patch it and I don’t know if I want to bother going through it over and over again..
By the way Nate, have you tried out any personal docs on your kindle fire hd? Sometimes its fine but it almost always crashes when I tap the page. I replied to someone on their Amazon review about using Calibre and told them my files had been made with calibre but I’ve been having a lot of crashing and Amazon deleted my post!
So im curious if its just me or if others are experiencing the same issue..
Nate Hoffelder September 17, 2012 um 6:49 pm
I have not tried the personal docs, no. To be honest I’m really not liking the ads or the general design of the menu so I’m waiting for a hack which gets rid of them.
Andrys September 18, 2012 um 1:45 am
I’ve used word docs and pdfs on the KFHD and experimented with double tapping to see how it affects the various displays. Never a crash. Must be something to do with the Calibre-made files.
Ravi September 18, 2012 um 3:10 am
The interesting question is whether or not Amazon will patch the hole in their next software update. This particular exploit is well-understood (and is patched in Android 4.0.4, though the fix is separable, I believe), so it wouldn’t be hard for Amazon to patch it. The question is whether or not they care. Based on last year’s Kindle Fire, I’d have thought not, but they’ve taken a different turn this year, it seems.
nate December 28, 2012 um 5:24 pm
My KFHD was a gift but otherwise I wouldn’t have paid $2 for this over-bearing OS that blocks all app markets/websites and redirects you to Amazon apps. Why they think I’m going to pay twice for the same apps is beyond me. Mine is a 13Gb so the lack of a microSd slot is another minus!! boo Amazon!