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Portables Software Hardware

Kindle Fire and Nook Upgrades Kill Root Access 275

jfruhlinger writes "The Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble Nook tablets are similar enough and close enough together in price that they ought to be fighting market share and one-upping each other in terms of features they offer users. But the latest OS upgrades to both gadgets claims to be an 'upgrade' while actually taking functionality away: both remove the ability to root the device." A more balanced way of looking at it is that the updates fix known local privilege escalation vulnerabilities. This might be more of an issue for people wanting to hack on the Nook Tablet: its bootloader is confirmed locked, but reports lean toward the Kindle Fire having an unlocked bootloader letting anyone flash their own software without needing to gain root first.
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Kindle Fire and Nook Upgrades Kill Root Access

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  • by Anon-Admin ( 443764 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @11:55AM (#38449264) Journal

    I have several FlyTouch pads from China. The new ones are dual touch with 1ghz processors in a 7" format and are running around 80$ including shipping. They are google Android and they will send you the android image. Re-flashing is as easy as putting the image on an sd card and booting the unit with the sd card in it.

    Not the greatest in the world but they are very good for around the house network access, book reading, hacking, etc.

  • Re:Good (Score:2, Informative)

    by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @12:05PM (#38449446) Homepage

    And how would this magic malware manage to reflash the boot loader in the first place since it requires a hard reset and a 2nd device plugged into the USB port to do it?

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @12:45PM (#38449994) Homepage

    Thanks for the heads up but I've done C++ for the last 15 years. A C struct is NOT the same as a C++ struct because it can't inherit and it doesn't have methods , only the option of function pointers, but thanks for playing.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by JesseMcDonald ( 536341 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @01:04PM (#38450200) Homepage

    No, the answer is that copyright doesn't grant all the privileges the publishers are claiming, at least in the USA. In particular, the Doctrine of First Sale pretty much says that you can legally do whatever you want with your copy once they've sold it to you (aside from using it to make more copies). That includes not only obvious things like transportation, but also lending—both free/personal loans and commercial rental.

    Rental companies and retailers often do have special agreements with the publishers, but that's because the publishers are offering them a better deal, not because they need the agreement simply to resell or rent out the physical books/DVDs/etc.

    Digital media falls into a rather gray area, which is how the publishers like it. They take advantage of the ephemeral nature of digital goods to undermine the First Sale doctrine, while simultaneously claiming that the content has been fixed in a tangible medium in order to gain copyright privileges over it. It should be one or the other, but they leverage the confusion to get their way on both counts.

  • Re:Mmmm, movies (Score:5, Informative)

    by DdJ ( 10790 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @01:05PM (#38450220) Homepage Journal

    This does not impact the Nook Color in any significant way.

    Both the Nook Color and Nook Tablet will try to boot off microSD first if they can. That's not part of the OS. However, the Nook Tablet requires a signed kernel to boot, and the Nook Color does not. So, this change results in a significant loss of hackability for the Nook Tablet, since you had to "jailbreak" it in some sense to do anything. It does not result in a significant loss of hackability for the older Nook Color, since you can still just write an unsigned kernel to a microSD card and you're off and running.

    Disclaimer: this is my understanding from scouring the xda-dev forums for details and from hacking my own Nook Color. I've confirmed that 1.4.1 on the Nook Color does close the sideloading "hole", and that a 1.4.1 Nook Color will still boot stuff like CM7.1 from microSD card. The rest of it, I have not personally verified myself, but am summarizing my understanding from reading experts talking about it all.

  • by dmesg0 ( 1342071 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @01:38PM (#38450668)

    And thus useless for check depositing. Chase Bank's deposit app for Android is exclusive to Android Market.

    A few minutes on slatedroid, half an hour of effort and your favorite Chinese tablet is running the full market. And please don't tell me time is money, your mere presence here proves otherwise.

    So how do I convince the publisher of an application that uses the NDK to offer a MIPS version of the same application? I haven't yet had a chance to try a MIPS tablet for myself, but I'm under the impression that the view of Android Market on such a tablet would be as barren as, say, the AppsLib that comes on eighth-generation Archos devices because most apps using the NDK are exclusive to ARM and thus hidden.

    I never recommended buying a MIPS tablet, just answered your certification question. Though I guess for basic uses like web browsing, it should be fine.

    (Aside: Has my "trying to find the best affordable Android tablet" become "whining" yet? Should I stop now?)

    I would say yes. Though it looks to me like you are trying to convince yourself not to grab one of these 100$ tablets. Good luck with that, it's not easy. I failed 3 times :)

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Informative)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @04:01PM (#38452262)

    No need: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=cockpit [etymonline.com]

    The midshipman's berth on naval ships used to be called the "cockpit," a pit for fighting cocks (roosters). Midshipmen were usually young men, frequently in fierce competition for limited promotions.

    Cock as slang for penis probably also originates with cock meaning rooster.

  • by yelvington ( 8169 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @05:39PM (#38453502) Homepage

    I bought the NC because I could get it cheaper than the Kindle Fire and the reviews for the Fire said it was crap.

    You made a mistake relying on bad reviews written by morons. I've looked at a lot of them. They're mostly immature Apple fanbois trashing the competition and/or ignorant "tech journalists" who are cutting and pasting other peoples' reviews. 90% of what you see on tech blogs is pure plagiarism with a lame excuse link buried at the bottom.

    The truth is that the Kindle Fire is a really pleasant device, a great bargain, well-supported by Amazon (three OS updates so far) and with the 6.2.1 OS, quite snappy.

    I have a Fire, and my daughter has the Nook Color. In terms of performance, responsiveness and usability, the Kindle is head and shoulders above the Color (which is last year's model). A much faster dual-core CPU is the biggest reason, but the display is also much brighter. The Nook Tablet, which is about $50 more, is arguably better hardware, but it's more limited on the media and software side. Both support Netflix. The Fire has more apps and the Amazon music and video, which is important if you are a Prime member but maybe not all that big a deal otherwise. The Fire lacks SD card support and has no microphone like the Nook Tablet.

    For books, the Nook Android software is easily obtained and sideloaded on the Kindle Fire without rooting, so you have a choice. I'm not so sure that can be done the other way around.

    The Kindle Fire 6.2.1 upgrade wipes and reconfigures the Android /system partition. This is an easy way to do the upgrade, but if you rooted your Fire in order to install the Google app framework, you'll suddenly discover that calendar and contact sync has gone away. Most of the other Google software works without requiring rooting, and it's simple to pull a backup off your Android phone that can be installed on the Kindle Fire.

    The culprit here isn't Amazon, but rather Google, which is responsible for making its apps unavailable on the KF platform and for requiring that its application components be installed on the system partition. The only way to make the system partition writeable is to root the device.

    There are some parts of the Fire UI that needed some work; the carousel in particular was jerky and not always responsive. That's fixed in 6.2.1. I also see reports that the Kindle Fire doesn't like flaky, crappy wifi routers (and there are a LOT of crap routers out there). I don't know how much of that might be fixed in the upgrade. My routers all work fine.

Civilization, as we know it, will end sometime this evening. See SYSNOTE tomorrow for more information.