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May 2018
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Updating Kindle DX or Kindle 2 to Kindle 3.x Firmware

Having discovered an already functional jailbreak for the Kindle Touch recently thanks to independent developer Yifan Lu, I was also pleased to note that there is a way to get your older Kindle devices somewhat more up to date.  It turns out that the hardware improvements in the Kindle 3 as compared to the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX, particularly the processors, were not significant enough to make it impossible to run the newer version.

To get this update installed, you will need a few things.  The most important, and possibly the hardest to get in some cases, is a working Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard) that has been jailbroken.  Assuming you have a spare Kindle 3 laying around, the same site linked in the instructions to follow contains detailed instructions on the jailbreaking process under the “Projects” tab.  You will also need a minimum of 900mb free on your Kindle 2/Kindle DX and 720mb free on your Kindle 3.  Naturally a USB transfer cable will be important as well.

Assuming you have all of these things, check out this page on Yifan Lu’s site.  The included instructions are simple to follow and while it will probably take you anywhere from one to three hours to complete the entire process, there is little room for error if you follow the order of operations correctly.

There are several things that you must be aware of before starting in on this:

  • Should you allow either of your Kindles to lose power while they are in use, it is likely to cause some major problems.  Charge them before you begin.
  • Once completed, you will have to repeat the process for any future firmware updates.  The Kindle 2 or Kindle DX will not be able to automatically access the files released for the Kindle 3.
  • While the hardware difference between these Kindles is not large enough to make the process inadvisable, as it would be if going from the Kindle 4 to the Kindle 3, there is a difference.  You will experience slight lag as the downside of your improved functionality.
  • Active content such as Kindle games will not work as a result of the update.  The developer of this update process doesn’t know exactly why, nor does there seem to be any major fix for this.  Be aware.
  • Sound/Music playback on the newly updated device will be flawed.  Since it will have been jailbroken it is possible to install an alternate music player to fix this, but it is an additional step for people who make much use of the eReader’s audio playback abilities.
  • There have been some unconfirmed reports that extremely large PDF files have issues on devices updated in this fashion.  This is likely the result of slightly inferior hardware and will probably not be an issue compared to the greatly improved PDF handling, but it is worth noting.

We can’t quite say why Amazon chose not to update these older Kindles, although it has been speculated that they were consciously abandoned to drum up business for the Kindle 3.  Also possible is the idea that faster processing simply opens more doors to new features that couldn’t be productively implemented otherwise.  Either way, at least now it is possible for owners of older Kindles to get the most out of their devices.

While the newer Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch are great, eReaders are made to last and there is no reason for a satisfied owner to throw away their perfectly good Kindle 2.  With the Kindle DX it’s an even more obvious choice, since there is yet to be a hardware update to the larger form and it looks increasingly like there never will be.  This update makes it even more desirable for those who need the 9.7″ screen.

Simple Kindle Touch Jailbreak Released Using MP3

The Kindle Touch may not be running Android like its tablet counterpart, but it also doesn’t run the operating system found in previous models of the Kindle eReader line.  The focus is now on HTML5 and Javascript interfaces rather than the previous Java implementations.  This means that pretty much none of the old hacks and mods that have been released for the Kindle line will be of any use to customers this time.  Of course that was bound to be addressed fairly quickly.

Yifan Lu, a freelance developer, has found an exploit in the way the Kindle Touch handles MP3s which will allow people to easily jailbreak their new eReader.  Along with that discovery, he revealed that the majority of the device’s interface is simply HTML pages in disguise.  This alone means that coming up with interesting mods will be significantly easier than was previously the case, unless I miss my guess.  It implies a greater degree of system control through Javascript than is normally possible.  For now there isn’t much for an end-user to work with, but there is every reason to believe that you will find modules for adding EPUB support and any number of other fun extra functions in the months to come.

In order to attempt this Jailbreak (Which neither I nor this site recommend or take any responsibility for as it voids the warranty and may render your Kindle unusable if something goes wrong), head to this site and follow the instructions included in the Zip Archive’s README file.  This involves nothing more than connecting your Kindle to a computer, copying a .mp3 file to your music folder, disconnecting from the computer, and running the music player.  A button pops up labeled “Press to Jailbreak!” and you’re done.

My trial of this process went smoothly and did pretty much nothing.  It is definitely anything but an urgent need or an inherently beneficial act for most people.  All you are doing is enabling root access to your device, which means that among other things installing third party software will be possible. Chances are good that even with this it will not be possible to open up general 3G internet access, use of neglected hardware like the internal mic, or removal of advertising, but other than that there shouldn’t be many limits.

If you are interested in the potential that the process opens up, I would recommend both acquiring your Kindle Touch in the near future and making sure not to allow any software updates on the device until it is certain that the changes will be kept around.  While Amazon has been incredibly open in their lack of interest in securing the Kindle Fire in any significant way, they have a history of being somewhat more closed with their eReaders.  Not the least important reason for this is the heavy investment the company has made in their proprietary format, the evasion of which would likely be the first thing that customers use their new found freedom to achieve.

Kindle Hack Brings 3.1 Firmware to Kindle 2 and Kindle DX

While the general functionality of the Kindle hasn’t changed much from version to version, at least as far as the act of reading goes, as time goes on the newer firmware for the latest generation of Kindles has introduced a few things that owners of the earlier models might be justifiably unhappy about not having access to.  Even if you do read enough eBooks for the Kindle to pay for itself in a year or two, nobody really likes the idea of being forced to buy a whole new one from time to time just to be able to use the newest options.  Working with this concept, an inventive individual by the name of Yifan Lu has managed to come up with a way for owners of the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX to update their devices to the latest version of Amazon’s firmware.

It isn’t a quick process necessarily, but it seems to be a well outlined process.  You need a jailbroken Kindle 3 handy(instructions on how to do that are provided as well) in addition to the device you are upgrading in order to extract the working 3.1 setup, but other than that there’s nothing special required in terms of equipment.  Even that is simply to avoid possible penalties from Amazon for distributing the copyrighted code behind the Kindle, but you can’t blame somebody for wanting to avoid that.

There are a number of benefits to updating to Kindle 3.1:

  • Real Page Numbers
  • Improved Web Browser
  • Improved PDF Support
  • and More!

The disadvantage, of course, is that doing this will be complicated for your average user and might carry some small amount of risk to it.  Also, at present there are two major bugs that arise from this update.  The audio player becomes effectively unusable thanks to degraded sound quality, and Kindle Active Content will not work.  Both of these may be fixed at some time in the future, but I haven’t heard with any certainty that they are being actively worked on.  Surprisingly, the upgrade is said to involve no significant decline in performance.

Since the option to run the newer features on older Kindle models is clearly there, it seems a bit manipulative of Amazon to deny them to early customers.  I’m aware that they need to find ways to make money and that it serves to push the newer products that much more effectively, but this isn’t the way to do it in my opinion.  Thanks to this hack, however, if you happen to need a second or third household eReader, you have the option of a fully functional refurbished Kindle 2 with only a little bit of work.  There have been some great deals on them lately if you keep your eyes open.  It’s a good way to get the most for your money even when you dislike the idea of the ad-supported Kindle with Special Offers.  The Kindle 2 isn’t quite as nice to use as the Kindle 3, in my opinion, but that doesn’t make it bad by any means.

If you are interested in this hack, check it out at: http://yifan.lu/tag/kindle/

We take no credit for the work involved in making this great new tool.