Just days after the Barnes & Noble NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ tablets went on sale, hacker verygreen has posted instructions for rooting the tablets. It also looks like it’s possible to boot software from a microSD card — which means you may soon be able to dual boot the official B&N software as well as CyanogenMod or another custom ROM.
Update: An unofficial build of CyanogenMod 10 is now available for the NOOK HD+.
The $199 NOOK HD features a 7 inch, 1440 x 900 pixel display while the $269 NOOK HD+ has a faster processor and a larger 9 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel display. Both tablets ship with a highly customized version of Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
But B&N left a few basic Android features intact, including an option to enable support for adb (Android Debug Bridge) in a developer settings section.
Once you’ve done that, you can connect the tablet to a computer with a USB cable, download su and busybox, install the Android SDK (or at least the adb components), and push the su and busybox apps to your NOOK HD or NOOK HD+.
That’s enough to give you root access to these tablets, which will let you adjust files and settings that are normally inaccessible. It’s a first step to customizing the home screen, adding the Google Play Store, or making other changes.
Unfortunately this is the sort of thing that Barnes & Noble could easily prevent with a software update that hides the developer settings. But there’s more than one way to hack a tablet.
Like earlier NOOK devices, the new NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ also appear to be able to boot from a microSD card. That means that you can install a second operating system on a removable card and boot into it any time the card is inserted.
People have been doing this with the NOOK Color and NOOK Tablet for ages. It looks like that tradition will continue as soon as someone develops a custom ROM for B&N’s latest tablets.