I’ve received several messages from people who try to install an update or a hack (for example Unicode Font Hack) and Kindle enters infinite install update-fail-reboot cycle. Some believe that the device is bricked. I also saw people posting on forums about similar problems. Good news is that if it happened to your device chances are it’s not bricked. All you need to do is put your device into Recovery Mode by holding “Home” button when the device boots up. Once in recovery mode, connect it to your PC via USB cable and remove the update_*.bin file that fails to install from the Kindle drive, unplug the USB cable and then press “R” to reboot the Kindle. It should boot normally. Once it boots you can make another attempt and installing the same update. Most likely you will not have the same problem.
It’s unclear what causes this problem. I saw it happening with hacks as well with official Amazon updates. Deleting and copying the same update will fix it. I can guess that there is some bug in Kindle USB disk related software and sometimes update file is not stored correctly which causes update unpacker to fail. Good way to test this theory would be to make a copy of the faulty update file from the Kindle drive when in recovery mode and compare it to the original. I’ll test it if I get a chance.
There is this undocumented feature of recover mode in Kindle 2. I’m posting about it but please don’t mess with it unless you know what are you doing because it can potentially brick your Kindle. K1 had an option of 100% wiping and reflashing the device to the origianl state. This option doesn’t seem to be present in K2 tough.
To enter Recovery Mode you need to hold the “Home” key while the device is rebooting when the screen flashes from black to white for a couple of seconds. If you see “Amazon Kindle” and boot progress bar – it’s too late and you need to reboot again.
When in recovery mode, you can hook up your Kindle to computer via USB and mess with the files just like in the normal mode. You can also press “1” and this will initiate installation of update from the root directory of Kindle drive. However normal updates (2.0.1 and 2.0.2 as well as screensaver hack) don’t install this way – Kindle just ignores them. With a little tweaking I was able to get Kindle to see the update but it would still fail to install.
Pressing “R” key will reboot your Kindle 2 back into normal mode.
What is interesting is that when I called the number on the screen the tech didn’t know what “Recovery Mode” I was talking about.
This is not a whole lot of useful information yet even that I had to piece together from different places on the Internet when trying to repair my Kindle 2 myself. I eventually gave up and called the warranty.
If I figure out the “recovery mode update” trick I’ll surely post about it.