Snowball-mod for NOOK Tablet

The Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet is a 7 inch tablet with a color display, a dual core processor, and a custom version of the Google Android operating system designed by Barnes & Noble. While the tablet can run hundreds of thousands of Android apps, out of the box it’s designed for reading eBooks from B&N, streaming videos from Netflix or Hulu, and running third party apps downloaded from the B&N Shop.

But since the NOOK Tablet hit the streets in November, hackers have been figuring out ways to do more with the tablet. People have rooted the tablet, figured out how to sideload apps, installed the Google Android Market, and blocked B&N software updates that make it tougher to do those things.

Now xda-developers forum member cfoesch has put together a new tool that packs some of the best NOOK Tablet modifications into one tool.

It’s called Snowball-mod, and it’s the closest thing to a custom ROM available for the NOOK Tablet. Since the tablet’s bootloader is locked, it will probably be a while before someone figures out how to actually load a custom ROM on the tablet and replace Barnes & Noble’s software entirely.

Here are some of the things Snowball-mod does:

  • Root the tablet.
  • Remove all of B&N’s custom Android apps including the NOOK reader and launcher.
  • Install ADW Launcher.
  • Install busybox, Android Terminal Emulator, and Button Savior.
  • Install some CyanogenMod 7 packages and commands.
  • Block over-the-air software updates.
  • Fix white text on white background bug in some settings menus.

Snowball-mod also includes hacks that lets you access the 12GB of storage that are normally reserved for B&N apps, but most third party apps won’t recognize this space.

You’ll need to start with NOOK Tablet OS 1.4.0 to install Snowball-mod. It’s not available for OS 1.4.1, but you can roll back to 1.4.0 by performing a factory reset. That will erase all of your data, but installing Snowball-mod will do that anyway.

It’s important to note that while this hack will make the NOOK Tablet feel more like a full-fledged Android tablet, it also removes access to the default Barnes & Noble applications. You can still read books by installing the Android Market and downloading the NOOK app, Kindle app, or other eReader app. But Snowball-mod isn’t designed for people that want to keep the original NOOK Tablet experience.

The utility also incorporates a cool new SystemUI replacement from revcompgeek which does two things:

  • Makes the home, back, and menu buttons on the bottom of the screen persistent
  • Turns the “n” button into a home button, so that it no longer brings up the QuickNav bar

You can also install the SystemUI replacement on any NOOK Tablet which has been rooted. You don’t need to use Snowball-mod if you only want to turn n button into a home button, for instance.

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13 replies on “Snowball-mod (almost) turns the NOOK Tablet into a full Android tablet”

  1. Being what is called a dumb blonde, I am over whelmed by the technical of it all. All I know is my Tablet is a paper-weight since it did an auto update while I was having coffee at my local B&N!

    Now I need a simple step by step to get back to a usable system.

    Ever since it did the update, I no longer can copy a PDF to my tablet to read, it refuses to open them.

    Tech support says coping a PDF to the unit to read is a violation of terms of use. This is bait and switch if you ask me!

    Can some one help me?

  2. Once you do the snowball mod if you find you don’t like it can you reset with memory card back to 1.4.0?

  3. Thanks Brad Linder for your reply.
    Now i have another question about rooting for Nook tablet.
    When i run my nook tablet (version 1.4.0).i did the edbugging mos on .I found the error message as follow.
    I don`t know why.

  4. Having trouble getting to the broken icon for nook tablet can i not root if i do not see this?

  5. I rooted my Nook Tablet and disable the OTA software update. Anyway, I found B&N reader is very good application for reading ebook in PDF file. It allow highlight, bookmark, and note, even for the PDF file. Before fully delete B&N custom apps, hope to find some comparable ebook reader from Android Market first. So far still cannot find one that match it…  

    1. Using the SD card allows you to perform a factory reset and install software on the SD card. In other words, if you’re running OS 1.4.1 you can use the image on the SD card to roll back to 1.4.0.

      If you use the other methods, it will just erase the /data partition on your device but it won’t change the operating system or affect any other files or settings. 

  6. Really like the site. Stumbled in here a few months back for Nook Tablet info and have been hooked ever since. I’m in the market for a 7″ tablet at the sub $250 price point, and not afraid of a little rooting/hacking. There seem to be a ton of choices – Fire, NT, Lenovo A1, Acer a100, etc… What would you buy in that price range? Or at this point is it best to wait and see what is announced at CES?

    1. It’s never a bad idea to wait if you’re patient, since there’s *always* something cool on the horizon. But while we’ll probably see some new goodies at CES, it could take a while for them to get to market. 

      Right now the NOOK Tablet and Kindle Fire are probably the best bargains unless you need cameras, GPS, or other functions.

      I really like the feel of the NOOK Tablet and the SD card for expansion… but the locked bootloader is presenting a challenge for hackers. If you’re looking for the more hackable tablet, right now you might want to consider the Kindle Fire.

      It’s $50 less, and relatively easy to transform into a full-fledged Android tablet. 

      It’s possible that the NOOK Tablet will get there, but for now your options are more limited if you go with that one.

      On the other hand, if you don’t need the dual core processor, the $199 NOOK Color is still a pretty great deal. You can often find it refurbished and on sale for under $150 and you can dual-boot CyanogenMod and NOOK Color OS on it. 

      1. Thanks Brad. I haven’t seen the Fire in person yet, but I’ve seen both Nook models. The NT is nice, and even the color isn’t too bad.  The 8GB limit of the Fire concerns me.

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