Monday, April 11, 2011

Beginners' Guide to jailbreaking an Amazon Kindle

So you've got a Kindle. But you think that its features are too limited, and you want to get more out of it. Well, just like any other device, you can jailbreak it. And its perfectly legal. Even Amazon has no problem with it (the Kindle software was made open-source).

Moreover, jailbreaking a Kindle is one of the most painless thing you can do in this world. The best part is that there is hardly any way to brick it, and the process is very easily reversible. Therefore, if you don't like your jailbroken Kindle, you can always go back.

So let's get started!
What do I get for jailbreaking?
Some of the notable new features you get for jailbreaking a Kindle are:
  • Custom screensaver images
  • Custom fonts
  • USB tethering support
I do not recommend you tether your Kindle to your computer. It will probably be against Amazon's terms of service. You can't get a free Internet connection like that. It's just unfair. Also, installing custom screensavers and fonts does not void your warranty in most cases.

Note: If you encounter any problems in this process, or if you lose any data, I am not to be held responsible for anything. It is almost impossible to actually brick your device in this process. Also, if you do lose any data, most of it (books, marks, notes) will be recoverable from Amazon.

What do I need?
You need the following things to jailbreak a Kindle:
  • A Kindle 2/3/DX/DXi
  • The USB connector
  • A computer and Internet connection (for most of you reading this, you already have these)
How do I go about doing this?
Update: You need to have upgraded to the software version 3.1 in order to use this jailbreak. Thanks to commenter Matt!

First, you need to download this jailbreak pack. Here's a mirror if that link doesn't work. It's a tiny zipped folder. Unzip it somewhere on your computer.

Go ahead and open the folder. Look for the suitable jailbreak file for your Kindle model. The important part in the file name comes after the version number. In my case, it was "0.6.N_". After this, there will be several abbreviated model indicators. Here's a list:
  • DX - Kindle DX
  • DXG - Kindle DX (UK/International)
  • DXI - Kindle DXi
  • K2 - Kindle 2
  • K2I - Kindle 2 (International)
  • K3G - Kindle 3G
  • K3GB - Kindle 3G (UK/International)
  • K3W - Kindle Wi-Fi
Here's a list of serial numbers and the right models. If you don't find the serial number on the back of your device, you'll get it at the bottom of your Settings screen.

The jailbreak software files will have an install version and an uninstall version. The uninstall ones will be useful to you when you decide to go back to your original Kindle. For now, look for your model's install file.

Now, connect your Kindle to your computer via USB.

Now, copy the jailbreak install file over to the device's root folder. If you don't know, the root directory is the directory directly in the device (outside any other subfolder).

Eject and disconnect your Kindle from your computer. On the Home screen, press Menu, go to Settings. If you press Menu there, you'll see the option 'Update Your Kindle' available.

Your Kindle will normally update and reboot. There is a possibility that the update might appear to be frozen, and some versions of the Kindle showing a failure message. These symptoms are normal and do not pay heed to them and/or try anything funny (like manually rebooting). You might damage your Kindle beyond repair. No matter what, let it update on its own.

Once it's done, it will reboot like it normally does after an official update. The whole process can take from a few seconds to even several minutes. For me, it took a minute or so.

When it is done updating and rebooting, you won't see any difference anywhere. So don't look for anything. It is not an iOS or Android device.

The actual difference is inside the device. It is now moddable. You can put in your own photos for the sleep screensaver. Amazon says that this will not even void your warranty. You can also install your own fonts, as I said before. All the other mods are installed in the same way as the jailbreak.

Final Note
Your Kindle is jailbroken. You can install several mods. But if you decide to go back anytime, there is one thing you need to remember to do. You should uninstall all the custom mods you have installed via their respective uninstall files. Then you can uninstall the jailbreak.

If you fail to do this, you might risk damaging your device and/or losing data (if it is not backed up to Amazon).