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Android Handhelds Hardware Hacking Build

B&N Nook Successfully Opened 275

garg0yle writes "A team has managed to open the Barnes and Noble Nook e-reader, gaining full access to the operating system. From the article: 'The Nook is now a computer running a full Android operating system, with a built-in, free cellular connection to the internet. It also has a battery that lasts days, not hours.' They are documenting their progress on the Nook Devs wiki."
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B&N Nook Successfully Opened

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  • until this whole operation gets blocked? I might have to snag one now before BN gets wise to this.

  • Free internet? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WiiVault ( 1039946 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @12:48PM (#30432426)
    Its great to see the Nook being opened up to allow unsupported apps, but I wonder about the impact of free 3G will be if this hack is widely used. Will this lead to the Nook2 featuring even more DRM, or perhaps no 3G at all? I sure hope not, but considering that BN will likely take a lot of heat from the service provider I wouldn't be surprised to see abuse of the network leading to a more locked down future device.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      They keep locking it down. We keep opening it up. We wouldn't have this problem if all devices were "open" in the first place.
      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:10PM (#30432752)

        Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. See the problem is cellular Internet costs money. Even if you don't think corporations should be allowed to make a profit, it is still going to cost money. You have to have a large network of radio towers to broadcast the signal, those have to be wired back in to a robust network to route the data, which has to be connected to the Internet at large. Of course all that doesn't maintain itself once built, things break, people need to fix it and look after it.

        That all costs money, as such, access is going to have to cost money.

        So, why is access "free" on things like the Kindle and Nook? Well it isn't. What happens is that Amazon or Barnes and Noble pick up the cost. There are two reasons they can do this:

        1) Usage is low. Since access is used only for searching for, or downloading, new books as well as a smattering of other things like news, it isn't all that much. That means they aren't having to pay out a whole lot per device.

        2) A large part of the usage has a profit associated with it, namely buying books. Thus each time you use the wireless to get a book, they make some money.

        This leads to a situation where it is feasible to offer it to customers at no charge.

        However, if you start using it as general purpose Internet, to browse whatever you want, to download files, to play games, that breaks down. Suddenly cost goes up a whole lot, and less (or perhaps none) of the activity generates any money. As such it can't be sustained. They have to restrict it, shut it down, or charge.

        Things in life aren't free. If you think everyone should just give everything away, well that shows a real lack of understanding of how the world works (and a good indication you've never had to provide for yourself).

        • Yes, so you allow free internet usage... up to a point, or for certain things. Then you charge.

          Doesn't that sound like any reasonable plan?

          Instead, they create a device that could do what you want, but is limited by DRM and artificial restrictions. That is just asking for the device to be opened up, and now they've created the problem they could have solved by simply pricing bandwidth appropriately and increasing their revenue stream.
          • You could - but product differentiation is a pretty important marketing concept. Neither Amazon nor B&N particularly wants to conflate their devices with netbooks.

          • Yes, so you allow free internet usage... up to a point, or for certain things. Then you charge. Doesn't that sound like any reasonable plan? Instead...

            Solution: Don't buy one. It's not like these are life and death matters here where you can somehow morally justify stealing something.

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          However, if you start using it as general purpose Internet, to browse whatever you want, to download files, to play games, that breaks down. Suddenly cost goes up a whole lot, and less (or perhaps none) of the activity generates any money. As such it can't be sustained. They have to restrict it, shut it down, or charge.

          Actually, they do this the same way you can prevent useful tethering on "smartphone only" plans. You pick a gateway and lock it down - the gateway only allows you to connect to certain sites,

        • This post has made it into my epic posts lists. If you're ever in Chicago, you're welcome to a beer or $drink_of_your_choice.
        • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:47PM (#30433238)

          However, if you start using it as general purpose Internet, to browse whatever you want, to download files, to play games, that breaks down. Suddenly cost goes up a whole lot, and less (or perhaps none) of the activity generates any money. As such it can't be sustained. They have to restrict it, shut it down, or charge.

          Things in life aren't free. If you think everyone should just give everything away, well that shows a real lack of understanding of how the world works (and a good indication you've never had to provide for yourself).

          If this is a free market, then as a consumer it is none of my concern how the supplier intends to make money. Nor is it my responsibility to use a product in such a way as to maintain the supplier's sustainability. This does not make me a crook. I'm merely trying to maximize the deal for myself. If this seems somehow unethical, consider that the same applies to the supplier. They need not concern themselves with such things as whether or not their products benefit society as a whole or whether a customer can really afford to buy such an offering.

          So anyway, consumer wanting as much as possible for as little as he can is 1/2 of what makes a free market free. That doesn't make customer or supplier immature. To say otherwise shows a lack of understanding of the free market and an indication of a lack of sophistication as a consumer -- sorry, couldn't resist the symmetrical dig ;)

          Perhaps if all consumers and all suppliers were to take the long view, the socially responsible view, that might be good. But without laws to enforce this on all parties (and restrict the free market), I just can't afford to put myself at a competitive disadvantage vs. suppliers or other consumers. Can't feed my family or pay the bills with smug self-satisfaction or inner holiness.

          • If the EULA states that the wireless connection can only be used to download books from B&N, then using it for other purposes doesn't make you a crook... but it does make you a contract violator. I would assume it's pretty easy to detect this and shut off access to any Nook that is attempting to use the data connection for other purposes.
          • by aicrules ( 819392 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @02:39PM (#30433856)
            Buying a nook is not buying a 3G wireless data connection to the internet. It's buying a 3G wireless data connection to buy B&N ebooks. Hack the hardware all you want, but if you use that hardware to get a service you haven't paid for, that's just like stealing TV. Yes, you can choose to steal, but you have to be ready to live with the consequences if you get caught. If you're having to steal 3G internet access to be able to feed your family, you're a fucking idiot for wasting your time trying to steal 3G internet access rather than getting a job.

            Giving things away is not socially responsible, and definitely not fiscally. If no one ever pays for anything, no one has a reason to maintain it and your free 3G network would very quickly be overwhelmed and be burnt to a crisp.
    • by wiredog ( 43288 )

      Free? Why do you think it (and the Kindle) cost $250? You pay for the internet access when you buy the thing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kristoph ( 242780 )

        The internet is paid for by the book purchases, with the carrier receiving a percentage of that. Any margin on the device goes to BN/Amazon.

        • It's a little of both really. In some instances the sale of ebooks don't actually make enough money to pay for the cost to transfer them over. Like during roaming. And you can still use the cellular even if you never buy a book on it, there is a small but significant minority of customers who buy one or two books and then only use the free browser and download free books. There are a lot of accounting tricks to say that free books come out of a marketing budget. And users that don't buy books come out of so

  • What crazy antics are AT&T going to throw out to try and stop this one?
  • by D3 ( 31029 ) <daviddhenning@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday December 14, 2009 @12:52PM (#30432500) Journal
    Add another device to your overladen 3G network!
  • by Raxxon ( 6291 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @12:56PM (#30432544)

    Welcome to the Arms Race, Android and Nook. Enjoy your stay.

    Now I have to get one of these, mod it, install the teathering package that I have on my G1 and I'm set... Read books AND provide random WiFi Hotspot...

    Who's going to make the Android App that will allow me to use this thing to track my D&D 3.5/4.x character? ;)

  • lol (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 14, 2009 @12:57PM (#30432556)
    I used to date a girl who called her pussy a "nook." I succesfully opened it many times :)
  • Can I attach this term to the Nook now too?

  • by pikine ( 771084 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @12:57PM (#30432576) Journal
    If you do this, your Nook will be openly accessible to anyone who port-scanned your Nook and found that port 5555 is open.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:08PM (#30432728)

      Along most of the American eastern and southern coasts, the word "nook" is slang for "vagina". That's why sex is sometimes referred to as "nookie".

      So it's funny that these unlocked systems are leaving their ports wide open, ripe for molestation by intruders across the globe.

  • And suddenly, I want a nook.

    I was going to wait for the next gen, but the likelihood that B&N would keep it as accessible in the next hardware revision is about as much as Amazon buying these for all their employees.

    • by afabbro ( 33948 )

      And suddenly, I want a nook.

      ...because you want to access B&N's book-buying servers to buy ebooks? If you all think this device will be a free portable Internet connection, think again. AT&T will shortly make all traffic from the Nook only routable to the B&N servers as originally intended. At that point, all you'll have is a Nook without a warranty.

      • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <chyeld@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Monday December 14, 2009 @02:23PM (#30433624)

        A Nook without a warranty, with an Android OS, and where the system is stored on a commodity memory card vs a ROM or proprietary storage method. A device that hasn't been TIVO'ed into only accepting signed system files, and which uses an OS with an active development community. For $300.

        How worthless, how worthless indeed.

        Free wireless means squat to me, I'm not a traveling man, I'm either at work or at home 90% of my life.

  • by weston ( 16146 ) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:00PM (#30432612) Homepage

    We've been down this road before [slashdot.org].

    Don't do that. Pushing the connection to carry things it wasn't meant to is pretty much theft of service, and it will get pushback from rightfully upset providers, and maybe more from policymakers who see hackers who can't behave themselves.

    Do what you'd like with the devices and/or media that you've purchased, but recognize that there's a line of fairness and don't cross it.

    • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:26PM (#30432968)

      It takes a SIM card, so really there's no excuse for using B&N's internet. Get an appropriate SIM and use your own.

      • by wiredog ( 43288 )

        At which point you're paying for it. Which is fine, but a bit more expensive (approx $600/year) than using B&N's.

    • The unit has a SIM slot, hopefully it will take another SIM. Then you can buy service from someone who supports tethering (is there anyone doing that on GSM? heh) if you need that feature. Otherwise, configure your Linux side to perform all communications via WiFi somehow, and you won't have a problem with abusing their network. I don't know if this will increase uptake significantly, but I certainly wouldn't consider buying any such device that I wasn't able to load Linux on.

    • Unfortunately it seems culture these days follows the "if it can be exploited for my own gain I must exploit it and should not be held responsible for exploiting it no matter what damages my actions cause" mentality.

      I don't own either of those readers but if I did I'd really appreciate the planless cellular connection. I'd be very annoyed if some people lacking in self restraint caused the companies to disable the cellular connection or force a data plan on someone who wanted to continue using the cellular

  • Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by electricbern ( 1222632 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:00PM (#30432618)
    If those 3G connections are not VPNed exclusively to B&Ns servers that is criminally stupid. If they are, then there is no big deal here, they just showed how you can get full access to a device you purchased. The way it should be.
    • If those 3G connections are not VPNed exclusively to B&Ns servers that is criminally stupid.

      More criminally stupid than sticking an Open Source Operating System (or OSOS as I like to say) on a removable storage device, and unlocking the full potential only requires the altering of 1 word in 1 file?

      • Re:Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <chyeld@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:19PM (#30432890)

        No that's ethically brilliant and something I plan on rewarding them for with my dollars.

        • For the 1 week of free Internet access? Whoever the provider is, (AT&T or whoever) WILL shut it down.

          Either they'll find a way to block opened Nooks, or they'll force a patch onto Nook's and disallow access to unpatched Nook's, and the patch will essentially either lock you into the closed system or shut off your internet access.

          • by lahvak ( 69490 )

            If they were smart, they would treat it as a regular cell phone, and charge you a hefty monthly data fee for general internet access, while still keeping access to the B and N site free. And B and N would open an application store.

  • MicroSD card? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adamdoyle ( 1665063 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:02PM (#30432654)
    They used an open source operating system and stuck in on a removable (albeit internal) MicroSD card?? It's almost as though they wanted it to be hacked. And then they just implemented it with a SIM card (which makes me think the AT&T network abstracts it as a standard cell phone). I wonder what happens if you stick that SIM card in a cellphone (probably doesn't work or else it would've been in the article). Still... I think we all know this won't last for long
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 )
      The Nook was unusually fast to market *because* they took advantage of Android instead of having to write their own OS/platform. It was probably cheaper/faster/more convenient for the ODM (hardware builder) to just stick the OS on the SD card instead of ROM/PROM. Remember, the Nook also supports auto-updates, and SD media is rewritable and fairly inexpensive.
  • by Kadagan AU ( 638260 ) <kadagan@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:03PM (#30432660) Journal
    Someone say Nook Opened [penny-arcade.com]
  • I'd like to see how long the battery lasts during heavy internet use.

    Days? Sorry, but I just don't think so. My Kindle DX battery lasts about two weeks, as long as I don't have wireless on and only read 1-2hrs a day. If wireless is on, substantially less. If I'm *using* the wireless a lot, even less than that.

    So, let's leave the hyperbole out of the summary, shall we?

  • I really would love an eInk (read: no back light) MPD client for my custom MPD server. Although, stealing Internet access is not my forte. I wonder of the modem can be swiped out for a WiFi card.

  • by dr_strang ( 32799 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @01:19PM (#30432888)

    This is why we can't have nice things.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eil ( 82413 )

      Dunno about you, but I consider a hackable device to a be a nice thing.

      One of the reasons I've been holding back on an ebook reader is because there hasn't been much success in opening them up despite the fact that they run open source software under the hood. Now that this has happened with the Nook (before it has shipped, even?), I'm pretty much set on buying one now.

  • http://nookdevs.com.nyud.net/Main_Page [nyud.net]

    It's not hard. Just add .nyud.net after the hostname.

    • Re:Coral Cache link. (Score:5, Informative)

      by psergiu ( 67614 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @02:02PM (#30433400)

      Too late. The wiki is dead.

      Here's the text from the "Rooting" page:


      Looking to root your nook? You have come to the right place!
      nookDevs.com is not liable if you screw up during the root process. kthxbai
      This will probably void your warranty, nookDevs.com is not liable for that either.
      [edit] Requirements

      microSD(HC) card adapter
      Small screwdriver
      45 minutes
      Fingernails or a sharp knife
      A linux/unix based computer
      Android SDK
      [edit] Instructions

      Turn off nook
      Take off the back cover of the nook
      Remove the battery
      Remove the user microSD card if there is one
      Unscrew all screws. Dont lose them. There is a hole in the bottom left with white in it. That is also a screw. Unscrew that.

      There are a bunch of tabs around the sides of the nook that release the white bezel. Once released you will need to unseal the glue
      Congrats you are 25 percent there!
      There are two black tabs on the sides of the nook where the page turn buttons are. Push those back to unlock them

      You should be at the board now. Find the OS microSD card

      Remove it

      Place the microSD card in a adapter, then into a computer
      Mount it as ext3 read-write (sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /media/disk replacing values as needed)
      Open the file init.rc as sudo (sudo nano init.rc)
      Find the line that starts talking about adbd
      Replace the first occurance of the word disabled with enabled
      50 percent done!
      Eject SD card
      Put SD card back into nook
      close nook up
      Now, on a computer again, download the Android dev toolkit (google it)
      Open a terminal
      cd to the android folder
      cd tools ./adb connect IP_OF_NOOK:5555 ./adb shell
      If you want to disable updates from B&N run: mv /system/etc/security/otacerts.zip /system/etc/security/otacerts.zip.bak
      CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE ROOTED YOUR nook. Have fun, be safe, dont forget to bring a towel
      [edit] Notes

      More pictures for tutorial to come later
      Make sure to put the SIM card back in correctly if you remove it. Blue and white site up with the notch in the battery compartment opening end, on the right hand side. Refer to included pic. (discovered nook 3G not working when I got to work. Paperclips make terrible screwdrivers)
      Android Debug Bridge (adb) is a versatile tool lets you manage the state of an emulator instance or Android-powered device.

      Full documentation and list of commands available in adb can be found here:
      http://developer.android.com/guide/developing/tools/adb.html#commandsummary [android.com]

  • Remember the I-Opener [wikipedia.org]?

    I predict a similar fate to the Nook:

    - Wicked cool device hits the market.
    - Hacked and liberated.
    - Provider(s) lose money due to the liberation.
    - Tug-of-war between provider(s) and hackers.
    - Provider(s) give up and more on after losing too much money.

    I expect the cell connection will be firewalled pretty soon unless they completely munged the process and can't. Expect some OTA updates pronto to keep the rooters out. Tug-of-war over rooting. Eventually new TOS to make you a criminal

  • by Tetsujin ( 103070 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @02:29PM (#30433708) Homepage Journal

    If you're dealing with the Nook and you power cycle without properly shutting down, you can expect a visit from Mr. Resetti... Those are never fun.

  • I doubt people will be getting free cellular internet very long if at all. The SIM card identifies the user as a Nook, and if the service provider has any brains, they will restrict the routing of all traffic from such users to where they want.

    Not that this is not a cool hack. I would like to throw in my own SIM card and take this baby for a spin.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday December 14, 2009 @02:55PM (#30434018)
    If variable names have been left int he jars, you may be able to dissamble so that you can start add your own classes.
    I havent coded for the Android yet. But was under the impression it used a "custom" form of Java, mainly special multi-process JVM.

Forty two.