Installing Android Ice Cream Sandwich on My Kindle Fire

So, what have I been doing in these long holiday? I don’t celebrate Eid ul-Fitr and I like it here in Bandung, so I practically don’t have anything important here. But I’ve been meaning to play with my Kindle Fire for weeks. And what I mean by “playing” is something you may call as “hacking” (although I don’t really see it as “hacking” since I just run some scripts made by other people). Before you read the rest, I want to warn you that this is not a guide or tutorial, just another blog post of my life.

They say you don’t really own your Android device until you “root” it. And why do I have to “root” my Kindle Fire other than for having fun? Since I bought it couple months ago, I only used it for browsing the Internet and reading books. Unfortunately because I couldn’t buy anything from Amazon, I only read books from my PDF collections (which are mostly academic papers) and from the Project Gutenberg site (they have so many great classic books there!). I thought I could add more things into my Kindle if I tried adding some stuffs. To add some stuffs outside Amazon, you don’t have any way other than to root the device and install Google Play in it. I thought I didn’t have anything to lose if I rooted it.

Seriously, I had no idea.

And then last night I searched for some tutorials then I found this article which directed me to the Kindle Fire Utility. At first I met some difficulties trying the KFU. Some of the steps I ran through didn’t match the one they wrote in the articles I found. I felt so stressed. But gladly, I realized that the KFU was written in batch script and I thought I knew some batch script. I opened the script and I tried running the script line by line manually until I found the error. Turns out there was some incompatibility between the command written in the script with the newest version of the additional tools used in the script. After searching here and there, I found the fix and I retried running the problem line.

Voila! My Kindle Fire was finally rooted. It showed different launcher and I could also install applications from Google Play. The smile in my face didn’t last very long. I tried installing some applications but the Google Play said that most of them were not compatible with my device.

I didn’t know if I had to be satisfied with that or not. It seemed that it was okay to stop at that point. I could still read books using my Kindle Fire and I didn’t lose anything other than the warranty from Amazon. But the Fire’s warranty had never meant anything since I got my hand on it and, on the bright side, I gained some EXP+ on rooting an Android device.

But then I thought I should try installing newer Android OS version. Although I only figured it out after I successfully installed it, at that time I guessed the reason that most of the applications in Google Play were not compatible with my device was because the Android OS running in the Fire was too old. Kindle Fire run a forked OS based on Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread. Android OS version naming is based on letter. Gingerbread starts with G, and the newest version, Jellybean, starts with J, and there are two letters H and I between them. I decided to install the I letter, Ice Cream Sandwich to my Fire and hoping that I could install applications from Google Play once I succeeded.

It was point of no return (a little bit exaggerating, there was an option to back up the system files). Once I installed the new OS, I might lose the Kindle application when I already felt so comfortable using the application to read. But no pain no gain. Again I searched for another tutorial. I found one in the same site. It turns out, once you already rooted the device, installing new OS is really easy. I just needed to put a zip file containing the ROM and some applications, install the zip file using the recovery application, and then reboot it.

My Kindle Fire running Ice Cream Sandwich

Done! My Kindle Fire is running the Ice Cream Sandwich now. Like I guessed, the device can now install many application from Google Play which were not compatible with the old OS. I lost the Kindle App, but you can settle by using alternative application such as Aldiko or Kobo (or you can spend extra effort searching for Kindle for Android APK file). About the performance, I don’t really see the difference if it’s faster or slower. But what I’m afraid of is the battery. Since I install a bunch of applications, I’m kind of afraid that the device will run out of its battery faster than it’s usual 8-hours. In the end, I pretty much like this new face of my Kindle Fire.