Sunday, January 01, 2012

Playing with (Kindle) Fire

My sister and I each ordered a Kindle Fire two months ago. As it came by way of an aunt coming in from the States, I only got hold of mine yesterday. What's to do on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day? Why, rooting it, of course.

The Kindle Fire generated a lot of hype when it was announced. Because of its low price-point, the industry rags dubbed it an "Apple killer." After playing with it for a couple of hours, I don't think that moniker is warranted. It's nifty, yes, and it's cheap, definitely, but it's way too limited in functionality to compete in the same space as the iPad (which, in my humble opinion, is also limited.) As shipped, it's really nothing more than an additional channel for media sales for Amazon.

The downsides, easily: no Bluetooth, no camera, no external media slots. I don't mind so much that it doesn't have a camera, but Bluetooth would have been nice so I can hook it up with a keyboard, and an SD card for would have been great for viewing photos. The real showstopper, though, was that the lack of access to the Android Market; instead, the stock Kindle Fire only gives you the Amazon App Store.

So I spent the wee hours of the New Year figuring out how to load Cyanogen Mod 7 on the Kindle Fire. When I got down to it, the process was straightforward, if somewhat nail-bitin'. CM7 is a community-developed Android ROM based on Gingerbread, and some pretty smart folks have gotten it to run on the Kindle Fire. The problem was wading through the web sites and forums for the proper instructions.

In the end, the two main resources were these threads on the Kindle Fire Utility and installing CM7 for Kindle Fire. The steps I took:

  1. Download and install the Android Debug Bridge.
  2. Download Kindle Fire Utility, as described in Vashypooh's post. The KFU only runs on Windows, though, so I had to switch operating systems
  3. Run the driver installation script included with the KFU. This will download the driver images, and then install it on the system.
  4. Connect the Kindle Fire to my PC via USB cable. The Kindle automatically mounts the USB storage, so I had to unmount it each time.
  5. Run the KFU. The KFU will ultimately install the TeamWin Recovery Project onto the Kindle Fire.
  6. From TWRP, which now becomes the boot loader for the Kindle Fire, install the Android image as referred to in the CM7 Kindle Fire post. Just copy the file into the root directory of the Kindle Fire, then install it from TWRP.
  7. From TWRP, also install the Google Apps image, also as pointed to in the CM7 Kindle Fire post.