bit-tech.net

Hacker runs Ubuntu on Amazon Kindle

Hacker runs Ubuntu on Amazon Kindle

This picture, taken by Lisa Katayama at Foo Camp '09, shows Jesse Vincent's Kindle 2 running the ARM port of Ubuntu.

While Amazon's popular Kindle 2 e-book reader hasn't yet made it across the pond, it's certainly been generating a lot of interest - including that of bored hackers wanting to extend its functionality.

According to Gizmodo, this level of interest has resulted in the device being hacked to run the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution - albeit not terribly well. The brains behind the hack, Jesse Vincent, unveiled his work at the Foo Camp conference last weekend and demonstrated the system running the X graphical environment - not bad for a device which arrives from Amazon locked down to the hilt.

Describing the device to BoingBoing.net, Vincent explained that the system is running "the Ubuntu 9.04 port to ARM [with] xdaliclock in front of an xterm with the remains of a 'top' command and a few mildly embarrassing typos."

While the ability to run xdaliclock turns the Kindle into an expensive and over-sized watch, Vincent continued his efforts - which required him to use the USB debug mode and a telnet daemon to bootstrap the device and started off simply as a way to read PDFs and ePubs on the Kindle - and over the course of a few evenings managed to convert it into "a moderately usable Ubuntu environment" which he describes as "a lovely little Linux box."

Sadly, there's no mention of whether the in-built 3G modem - used to browse the Amazon store and for the company's WhisperSync technology - is available for use under Ubuntu - which is a shame, as the agreement between Sprint and Amazon means that Kindle owners pay no monthly subscription and can transfer unlimited data.

Would you be tempted by the Kindle 2 if the platform were more open - and if it were actually available in the UK, obviously - or is this just an example of a hacker doing something simply because he can? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

17 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
War-Rasta 4th September 2009, 14:36 Quote
Impressive! Kinda pointless but impressive nonetheless 8-0
Jamie 4th September 2009, 15:51 Quote
This is kinda cool, it could open the door to some people writing a custom operating system to open up new uses for the device.
antiHero 4th September 2009, 16:13 Quote
I think its more of a "prof of concept" as the limited processing power and text only display isnt good for anything else then what the kindle 2 is build for anyway.

Awesome non the less :D
aradreth 4th September 2009, 16:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by antiHero
I think its more of a "prof of concept" as the limited processing power and text only display isnt good for anything else then what the kindle 2 is build for anyway.
Putting a different OS on it opens up support for more file formats like epub and pdf's which amazon decided not to include.
sear 4th September 2009, 17:28 Quote
Cool hack. There's always a sort of giddiness about getting stuff working on proprietary systems and the like. I'm not a free software nut but I do think that the fragmentation of the market is rather pointless and stifling. Good to see people trying to fix that, even if it's half for shits and giggles.
DXR_13KE 4th September 2009, 18:46 Quote
Someone put this video on the news post:

edit:

the one on this page:

http://hackaday.com/2009/09/03/ubuntu-9-04-on-kindle-2/
Veles 4th September 2009, 19:25 Quote
Soon we'll have those star trek pads
HourBeforeDawn 4th September 2009, 19:42 Quote
the kindle seems pointless to me, give me something of that size but with a color lcd screen and throw in touch features and then we could have a cool and useful pad for doing all sorts of things, could be useful for say doctors pulling up medical charts and so on or like for the rest of us pulling up magazines, newspapers, and so on.
ry@n 4th September 2009, 19:51 Quote
Reminds me of the guy that had MAME running on a digital camera.
B3CK 4th September 2009, 21:46 Quote
Would be quite awesome if he could get the 3g to work, and then tether through a usb cord. Free unlimeted 3g access for your laptop! After the initial layout for the kindle of course.
TomH 4th September 2009, 23:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by HourBeforeDawn
the kindle seems pointless to me, give me something of that size but with a color lcd screen and throw in touch features and then we could have a cool and useful pad for doing all sorts of things, could be useful for say doctors pulling up medical charts and so on or like for the rest of us pulling up magazines, newspapers, and so on.
See comment previous to yours, below:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
This is kinda cool, it could open the door to some people writing a custom operating system to open up new uses for the device.
In the same way that someone managed to load their own feature-less Linux firmware on a Linksys WRT router, Mr. Vincent's 'pointless' hacks will pave the way for third-party firmware loading on the Kindle, most-likely allowing you to read what the hell you want, when you want. Expect a FOSS project page in five, four, three...
perplekks45 5th September 2009, 11:59 Quote
Nice, can I have my Kindle now, please? And the books for reasonable prices? Travelling to work 1.5 hours there + 1.5 hours back every day, lots of reading to do.
sheninat0r 5th September 2009, 19:43 Quote
Why would he pick Ubuntu, of all distros? I feel it would have been easier to start with a very minimal (CLI only) default install and work his way up from there.
kylew 6th September 2009, 05:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by antiHero
I think its more of a "prof of concept" as the limited processing power and text only display isnt good for anything else then what the kindle 2 is build for anyway.

Awesome non the less :D

Then?
perplekks45 6th September 2009, 10:26 Quote
That's the only mistake you spotted? :p
kylew 6th September 2009, 12:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by perplekks45
That's the only mistake you spotted? :p

No, but it's the one that made me cringe the most.
Rich_13 6th September 2009, 13:00 Quote
slightly off topic, the lastest alpha is out forUbuntu
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums