Hacker runs Ubuntu on Amazon Kindle

September 4, 2009 | 14:05

Tags: #amazon-kindle #hack #hacker #kindle #kindle-2 #sprint

Companies: #jesse-vincent

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.
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