Fine folks at the-ebook.org (translated version) have found a way to mod Igor’s python script so it can create valid custom updates for Amazon Kindle DX. I’ve compiled Kindle Unicode Font hack with the updated tool and verified that hacks work on my Kindle DX. Everything works fine – there are Unicode characters in both books and basic web, hack installs and uninstalls just fine and is safe to use.
Just as before there are 2 versions of the hack: one based on liberation fonts that have fewer international characters (no Asian characters) but preserve serif styles and one with droid fonts that has more characters but turns everything into sans-serif.
I have updated Unicode Fonts Hack page with new download links and instructions. Enjoy!
Convert it to set of JPEGs and read it in the picture viewer.
With Kindle DX option 1 is ruled out for the time being since Unicode font hack doesn’t install on it. (Update: Unicode Fonts Hack now works on Kindle DX as well). However because Kindle DX supports PDF natively there is another way. PDF supports “font embedding”. This means that fonts that are used in PDF file are stored within the file itself or at least a subset of font that describes all the characters that are actually used. So Kindle can display Russian text in PDF files even though there are no Russian fonts on Kindle DX itself.
Luckily creating PDF files is easy as printing documents. There are dozens of PDF “converters”, “creators” or “writers” out there that all work in a similar way. They are installed as virtual printers that instead of printing documents on paper save them on your PC in PDF format. So any file that can be opened in program that supports printing (and 99% of them do) can be converted to PDF.
Kindle DX Russian Text
I tested several such programs and all of them produced files that I could read on my Kindle DX. Visually files produced by all of them were identical and of similar size (on disk). The only difference is how particular program behaves itself on PC. In the end I went with PDFCreator because it’s easy to install and use and doesn’t come with junkware.
PDFCreator from SourceForge.net. Easy to install (just a single installer). Runs without problems and only offers to install Yahoo toolbar and default search when it’s installed. You can easily opt-out of it. Uses GhostScript (which is included in installation) for file conversion. User interface looks a bit crude but it is not a hindrance.
CutePDF by Acro Software Inc. Requires you to install the printer driver and Ghostscript separately. Printer driver installation is not Vista/Windows 7 friendly as it requires you to disable UAC (user account control) which requires a reboot (and then another one to turn it back on). There is not proper excuse for such sloppy software writing in 2009 when Windows Vista has been around for years. Otherswise the converter works fine.
PrimoPDF by by Nitro PDF Inc. Single installer that installs everything you need. Doesn’t have a problem with Vista/Windows 7 UAC. During installation you are subscribed to a mail-list you can later opt-out of. Runs ok except that on my Windows Vista machine Adobe Acrobat Reader would crash if you configure PrimoPDF to launch it to view newly converted file.
Pdf995 by Software995. You need to install 2 separate packages in order to software to run. It also shows an ad every time you convert a file unless you purchase ad-free version.
There are many more free and paid PDF converters out there. I’ve reviewed just a few free ones. If you think you know of a better one – drop a comment here and I’ll take a look.
You can see a sample (click to zoom) of Russian text that was downloaded from lib.ru, copy-pasted into Microsoft Word, font bolded and converted ot PDF using PDFCreator.
Patches were tested by several volunteers and all results were positive. The patch works and doesn’t cause any problems. You can now read books on your Amazon Kindle 2 in Russian, Chinese, Japanese and probably number of other languages.
Currently I’m releasing hack with two different fonts: Liberation that comes from RedHat Linux and Droid that comes from Google Android project. Both fonts are open-source and they are the best ones I could find that suit the needs of this hack. Finding good fonts was much harder than creating the hack itself.
Instructions and download links can be found here. Please-please-please-please-please do be very-very-very-very-very careful if you decide to experiment with adding your own fonts to the hack. If you find good free or reasonably priced fonts that work – please let me know – I’ll test them and make more versions of the hack available here and give you proper credit. Please spread the word about this hack as it will increase chances of someone finding better fonts that can be used with it.
Here are some screenshots of what Kindle 2 with hacked fonts looks like:
I would like to thank John, Ted and some other folks for helping me test this patch. Another big thank you goes to Igor who created the python script that creates Kindle 2 update packages.
I’ll now shift my attention to figuring out creating custom recovery mode updates. Once this is done – I’ll have much more freedom in messing with fonts and other settings without fear of bricking my Kindle 2.