Barnes and Noble's NOOKcolor

NOOKcolor: E-reader or Internet tablet?
More than Meets the Eye—Rooting the NOOKcolor

If you've been following along, you'll see that the NOOKcolor's a very capable device, hardware-speaking, and it runs Android. The folks at NookDevs thought the same thing, and they started poking at the NOOKcolor. They decided to attempt to root, or gain control of the hardware outside any blocks put on it by the manufacturer. They found that the device can be booted off a properly formatted MicroSD card. If they put their own OS on it, they could, in theory, boot off the card, mount the NOOKcolor's internal disk and make changes to it, allowing for installation of other software and modification of the unit. This is exactly what they did, and it turns out the NOOKcolor makes a very capable Internet tablet. Because this is a highly moving target at the time of this writing—literally, advances are being made almost on an hourly basis—I'm not going to do a step-by-step account of the method. Rather, I touch on the concepts here, and for current details, check out the NookDevs portal Web site (see Resources).

The method to root the NOOKcolor at the time of this writing is to use a specially prepared image of a MicroSD card. Once you get that image, you dd write it to a MicroSD card, then boot the NOOKcolor off the card. The NOOKcolor will not have anything on its display during the boot, so you need to have a bit of faith and wait a while, then pull the card and reboot the unit. If all goes well, once the NOOKcolor reboots, you should be able to talk to it using the adb command found in the Android SDK. If the result of adb devices shows a serial number, you're talking to your NOOKcolor via the debugger, and you can sideload programs in the Android .apk format to it! Anything you add to the NOOKcolor appears in the Extras menu, so it's easy to get to and launch those new programs.

At this point, you can start pushing software to the NOOKcolor. Quite a few sites host Android freeware on the Internet (one of them is in the Resources section of this article). You even can get the ad-supported free version of the hit game Angry Birds running on the NOOKcolor. It runs flawlessly, and it's an excellent time killer. At this point, the sky's the limit. You can swap out launchers for alternate launchers and modify the system further (see NookDevs for examples of what you can do).

Figure 6. Angry Birds Running on the NOOKcolor

So there you have it—the NOOKcolor is a good e-reader and a very hackable device. If you're in the market for something fun to play with that has good build quality and lots of potential, check out the NOOKcolor at your local Barnes & Noble. It's a very nice device.


Bill Childers is the Virtual Editor for Linux Journal. No one really knows what that means.


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Looks like I have been living

chaz john's picture

Looks like I have been living under a rock. i spent the past weekend with my sister and her family. My brother-in-law and I got into a talk about, of all things, libraries. Somehow the conversation turned to the use of radio frequency id in his local library. While, I was familiar with the term at a baseline level, I had no idea how wide this technology spread.

He mentioned how the local library used them on everything they checked out. He also mentioned, how publishers are using RFID as a connection between print and online platforms.

This propelled me to think about my own ereading experience, and that I needed to educate myself on the nuance and capabilities of RFID.
Currently, I'm looking to learn about RFID readers(is a good place to start?) and really understand the process.

Man, my inner nerd came out in this post! I'm just really excited when I have a chance to learn about something new, especially an emerging technology.

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