How to root an Amazon Kindle Fire

The Amazon Kindle Fire may not look like your average Android tablet thanks to its highly modified user interface. But under the hood it’s running a tweaked version of Google Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and it turns out to be a fairly easy tablet to root.

Rooting allows you to access system settings that might not otherwise be available and install third party apps that can access those settings. For instance, some apps use root access to take adjust your CPU speed, backup your apps, data, and settings, or explore the complete file system on your Android device.

You’ll also need to root your device if you plan to replace the default software with a custom ROM such as CyanogenMod.

There’s at least one good reason not to root the tablet is because Amazon Instant Video streaming will not work on a rooted device. Fortunately you can unroot the tablet with one click if you want to remove root privileges and regain Instant Video privileges. You can find the details below.

Fortunately you also don’t need to root the Amazon Kindle Fire if all you want to do is install apps that aren’t available from the Amazon Appstore. For that, all you have to do is open the Settings menu and select the option that lets you install apps from unknown sources.

That will let you download APK installer files from the internet or transfer them to your Kindle Fire and install them. Not all Android apps will work properly on the Kindle Fire, but many will.

If you do decide to root your tablet though, here’s what you’ll need to do.

Install ADB 

Android Debug Bridge (ADB) is a utility that lets your Android tablet talk to a computer.

The first step is to install ADB on your computer. If you’ve already done this, or installed the complete Android Software Developer Kit you can skip down to the section where we explain how to add the Kindle Fire to your adb_usb.ini file.

  1. Download the latest Android SDK package from Google.
  2. If you want, you can install the full SDK — but you can also just download and unzip the zip archive file to a folder on your computer if you want to save time and space.
  3. Whether you’ve installed the SDK or just unzipped the files, navigate to the folder where your files are, for example c:\Program Files\android-sdk-windows.
  4. Double-click the SDK Manager executable file.
  5. A window will pop up asking you to select packages to install.
  6. Make sure Android SDK Platform-tools is checked. You can uncheck any of the others if you don’t plan to do Android app development.

Technically that’s it. You’ve just installed ADB on your computer. But if you want to save time when you use it, you’ll want to set a path variable. Here’s how to do that on Windows.

You might want to create a system restore point first in case anything goes wrong.

  1. Right click on “Computer” or “My Computer” from the Windows start menu, Windows Explorer, or your desktop.
  2. Select the option for Advanced System Settings.
  3. Choose the “Environmental Variables” option at the bottom.
  4. In the System Variables window scroll down until you see “Path.”
  5. Click the Edit button below the box.
  6. Add this to the end of the line of text in the edit box: ;c:\android-sdk-windows\tools;c:\android-sdk-windows\platform-tools.

Note that it’s very important not to delete anything in the existing Path string. You just want to add that last line to the end. If this sounds scary, that’s why I suggested you create a system restore point.

Enable ADB for the Kindle Fire

OK, so now you’ve got ADB on your computer. But your PC still won’t recognize the Kindle Fire unless we do one more thing.

You need to add the Kindle Fire ID to your ADB settings. Here’s how to do that on a Windows computer.

  1. Open the start menu.
  2. Type “cmd” into the run box to open a command prompt.
  3. Enter the following text (without quotes): “echo 0x1949 >> “%USERPROFILE%\.android\adb_usb.ini”
  4. Press enter.

adb path

If you want to do the same thing on a Mac, the folks at ACT Local Media have instructions. Thanks to Android Central for translating the instructions into Windows speak.

You may also have to modify the android_winusb.inf file. Death2all110 at xda-developers recommends finding that file in your google-usb_driver folder and adding the following listing to the Google.NTx86 and google.NTamd64 sections using a text editor.

;Kindle Fire

%SingleAdbInterface% = USB_Install, USB\VID_1949&PID_0006
%CompositeAdbInterface% = USB_Install, USB\VID_1949&PID_0006&MI_01

You may also need to locate your adb.usb.ini file and add a line to reads “0x1949″ (without the quotes).

Update: The method listed below for using SuperOneClick requires Kindle Fire OS 6.2 or earlier. If your device is running version 6.3 you can use Kindle Fire Utility to root your tablet

Kindle Fire Utility also simplifies the process of installing a custom bootloader and recovery and loading the Google Play Store and other apps. 

Root a Kindle Fire running OS 6.2 or earlier with SuperOneClick

Xda-developers member death2all110 has discovered that one of the most popular tools for rooting Android devices works with the Kindle Fire. It’s called SuperOneClick and it provides something close to a one-click solution. That’s assuming you’ve already gone through the steps listed above to enable ADB on your computer and add support for your tablet.

Here’s how to use it to root the Kindle Fire.

  1. Make sure you’ve enabled “unknown sources” on the Kindle Fire tablet and connect the Fire to your PC with a USB cable.
  2. Download the latest version of SuperOneClick from xda-developers or ShortFuse.
  3. The app is designed to run on Windows, but you may also be able to get it to work with Linux or OS X by reading the instructions in the original forum thread.
  4. Unzip the SuperOneClick zip file to a directory on your computer.
  5. Navigate to that directory and double-click the SuperOneClick.exe file.
  6. The app should launch. Just click the Root button and it should do the rest.

Now you should be able to install apps that require root access and advanced users will have more access to the file system and settings of the Kindle Fire. It probably won’t be long until users start figuring out ways to modify the $200 tablet to better suit their needs.

You can unroot the Kindle Fire by running SuperOneClick again and choosing the Unroot option. You’ll have to reboot your device for the change to take effect.

Update: Nope, it wasn’t long. You can now install the Google Android Market and access thousands of additional third party apps on the Kindle Fire. 

Amazon is likely selling the Kindle at or below cost in the hopes of earning revenue from eBook, music, movie, and app sales — and for the most part I think Amazon will make money from those things. I suspect most Kindle Fire users have no interest in rooting the device. But many will want to pick up the Kindle Fire for use as an inexpensive all-purpose tablet and use it in ways that Amazon may not have intended.

The Kindle Fire may not have some of the features found on other tablets such as a microphone, camera, GPS, Bluetooth, or SD card. But it’s a $200 tablet with a 1 GHz TI OMAP4 dual core processor, a 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel IPS display with good viewing angles, and the relatively versatile Android operating system. It can be much more than just a device for consuming media and playing games.

Latest Amazon Kindle Fire news and tips:

  • Johnny231

    just a heads up.. you root it.. you break the video player. aaaand.. you won’t be getting a replacement. Good luck!

    • http://www.liliputing.com Brad Linder

      You can use SuperOneClick to unroot the tablet just as quickly. 

  • Btrvalik

    SuperOneClick just hangs for me.. seem a lot of other people have the same problem.  Any suggestions?

    • http://www.liliputing.com Brad Linder

      When you say it hangs… does anything at all happen? Do you see text on the screen? If not, you probably don’t have your ADB configured properly. 

  • Btrvalik

    After hitting root all I get ..

    In the white panel:                                 In the grey panel:
    Killing ADB Server … 1.7s                       daemon not running… now on port 5037
    Starting ADB Server 4.26s                       daemon started successfully

    Then I get the hour glass and I have to eventually kill it via the “program not responding”

    1) I’ve made sure to perform all steps listed above
    2) tried rebooting windows but seems to have no improvement
    3) I’m running this under VMware on OSX 10.6.8
    4) I can mount the kindle and access it just fine from within VMware
    5) I’ve also tried this under OSX/mono and superoneclick just craps out with a page or so of errors

    Any help would be great
    Thanks
    Bruce

    • http://www.liliputing.com Brad Linder

      Hmm… I’m not sure I can offer much help. I’ve tested everything on Windows, but I wonder if it has something to do with the virtual machine (although it shouldn’t really make a difference). You might be best off posing your question in the xda-developers forum to see if someone with OS X can help you get SuperOneClick working properly. 

  • Btrvalik

    Success!  I’m not entirely sure what went wrong the first time.. but in the end, it appears that SuperOneClick was not able to talk to the kindle via the USB driver.

    I found the following guide helpful: http://reviewhorizon.com/?p=10239

    1) When I used adb from the command like, it became obvious that the USB driver what not working so I reinstalled the JDK.
    2) I still had not luck, so I then performed the windows driver update procedure several times until I could see the kindle connected using adb
    3) I also had to run SuperOne click more than once.. this may have been my fault.  I unplugged the kindle one I saw the message in SuperOneClick that it worked.. turns out I needed to give it a few more minutes.

    Thanks for the help!

    • http://www.liliputing.com Brad Linder

      Glad to hear you got it working!

  • Jeff P.

    I have the same on widows 7 .. I run root on super one click and it stalls out at starting adb server… I checked the files over and over every thing seems good and the device shows up .. don get it , any one can help?

  • Alsears

    I purchased an Amazon Kindle and rooted the device.  Now, it no longer lets me access any of the videos I purchased from Amazon or any of their Amazon Prime videos. I called customer service, and they verified that Amazon’s policy is to not let customers access their videos once they root the device (call at 877-442-1958 to verify this).

    This is completely counter to the policy that Amazon said they would have toward rooting (see: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2393740,00.asp#fbid=vDuVCdy2XA1).  I bought the device because they stated they wouldn’t get in the way of rooting.  It’s complete BS that they take away content I’ve already purchased because I root the device.  Their Amazon Android store is crap, and only has about 1/10th the apps I need.  I got kids and their selection of kids games is horrible.  In addition, I have a subscription to the Economist, which I can’t get unless I root the device because Amazon would charge me for each issue through their newsstand even though I already have a subscription. 

    I feel misled.

    • http://www.liliputing.com Brad Linder

      1. They never said they would fully support rooted devices. They just said they wouldn’t stop people from rooting.

      2. You can root your device, install the Android Market and the unroot it using SuperOneClick. The Market will stay installed and you can still download apps.

      3. Amazon isn’t taking away content you’ve purchased. It’s still tied to your account and if you unroot you can stream it or download it. You can also access the content on any device with a web browser and Adobe Flash. 

  • GregP

    Thanks, Brad, for this excellent guide.  Two comments:

    1) I believe there is a typo in your cmd prompt screenshot: that quote shouldn’t be there; or at least, in my case, it required removing it in order to work

    2) In my case, ADB refused to see my Kindle — even after installing the Android drivers from Kindle Fire Utility and doing all the other hacks — until I did a full Android SDK install rather than just download the zip and start the SDK Manager that way.  Not sure why, but maybe that helps someone else who’s having the same problem.

  • Rocky

    Thanks. I have Google Play on KIndle Fire, but when I start this app I got “You must add an account to the device. Do you want to add one know?” Yes and I am on the main page of Apps. I cannot registered Google account. What should I do? best r

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VW5XHSH45FBZ2ZEZJARYHILIZQ Leah

    Ok, I am running Windows 7 32bit, Kindle Fire 6.3.1I am stuck at Enable ABD for Kindle Fire.

    I’ve got the command prompt window up, and copy/pasted the code, but when I hit enter all I get is, “the system cannot find the path specified”
    1. What is it supposed to say when you hit enter, so you know it’s correct?
    When I tried to skip ahead to install/run the Kindle Fire Utility, it still says that it is Offline.
    This is my first time rooting my Kindle Fire and I think I’ve got the SDK properly installed. I’m not attempting to develop any android apps or anything fancy like that. All I want is to be able to download the Google Play store and more apps, but since I’m in Canada, I cannot seem to download anything.

    Help?

  • Sheilah

    Oops! i accidentally deleted the “path” when i was editing. how do i restore it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/rick.frazier.39 Rick Frazier

    my kindle is now turning the power button into a select boot option…which I’d rather it just fast boot so not so many just apps from kindle are running & I don’t have to shut them down every time. Options are Normal Recovery & reset…?