Kindle Hacking: It's a "lovely little Linux box"

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I took this photo of a Kindle 2 hacked by Jesse Vincent at Foo Camp this past weekend. Apparently, aside from being a popular e-book reader, the Kindle is like Lego for Linux geeks. Here's Jesse's description of what we're looking at:

What you see there is a Kindle 2 with the Ubuntu 9.04 port to ARM running in a chrooted environment. On the screen you see xdaliclock in front of an xterm with the remains of a "top" command and a few mildly embarrassing typos.

To open up the Kindle, I used the USB networking debug mode Amazon left hanging around when they first shipped the Kindle 2, a statically linked telnetd and a cross-compiler to bootstrap myself. From there, I built a daemon that can convert DRM-free PDFs and ePubs into something Amazon's reader on the Kindle can deal with.

After that, I started to get curious about what else might be possible. It only took a few evenings to get a moderately usable Ubuntu environment running.

Mostly, the Kindle is a lovely little Linux box. Getting X working took a bit of hacking, but everything else "just works" with very little configuration.

Got that? Okay.

About Lisa Katayama

I'm a contributing editor here at Boing Boing. I also have a blog (TokyoMango), a book (Urawaza), and I freelance for Wired, Make, the NY Times Magazine, PRI's Studio360, etc. I'm @tokyomango on Twitter.
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