Amazon may not be selling first-generation Kindle Fire tablets anymore (or offering significant software updates for them), but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach an old tablet new tricks. Developer Hashcode has released a custom ROM for the Kindle Fire that lets you run Google Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on Amazon’s first tablet.

In other words, you can practically turn an old Kindle Fire into a Google Nexus 7, complete with support for HD video playback, the Google Play Store, and much more.

Amazon Kindle Fire running Android 4.2

There are still a few things that don’t work. As of December 15th, 2012, deep sleep is broken — which means that the battery runs down more quickly than it should. There are also a few graphical glitches, and Swype-style gestures don’t work with the Android 4.2 keyboard yet.

Hashcode also hasn’t gotten the microphone to work yet — and the original Kindle Fire doesn’t have a camera or hardware volume buttons. So some Android apps may not work as well on this tablet as on a real Nexus 7.

But hardware-accelerated video works, which means you can watch HD videos from YouTube or Netflix. You can play games. And you get other Android 4.2 features including support for widgets on the lock screen.

Which Kindle Fire is this for, again?

This build of Android 4.2 is designed for the first Kindle Fire — the one that came out in late 2011.

It has a 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display and a TI OMAP 4430 dual core processor. It’s not quite as fast as a Nexus 7, and the screen resolution is lower. But it’s not a bad device if you’ve already got one lying around — and you can pick up a refurbished Kindle Fire from Best Buy for $130. From time to time retailers offer even lower prices.

Out of the box the Kindle Fire runs a heavily modified version of Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

Amazon offers a newer Kindle Fire (2nd generation) with a slightly faster processor and software based on Android 4.0. This build of Android 4.2 isn’t designed for that tablet. It also won’t work on the Kindle Fire HD 7 or Kindle Fire HD 8.9.

There are a few good reasons to stick with Amazon’s software. You lose access to the Amazon Instant Video streaming app and the Amazon Kindle Owners’ Lending Library if you install a custom ROM. You may also take a wrong move and end up with an unbootable Kindle (although it’s tough to make an irreversible mistake with a first-generation Kindle Fire).

Consider yourself warned.

How to update a Kindle Fire to Android 4.2 from another custom ROM

If you’re already running CyanogenMod or another custom ROM on the Kindle Fire and you have a custom recovery (such as ClockworkMod or TWRP) installed, updating to Android 4.2 is easy.

All you have to do is boot into recovery, perform a factory wipe and wipe the system partition, then install Hashcode’s custom ROM and the latest Google Apps packages.

This will wipe all of your data, settings, and apps. If you want to preserve them, you should download and run Titanium Backup first to backup all of your apps and associated data.

Amazon Kindle Fire 4.2

Then you can install Titanium Backup again after updating to Android 4.2 and run it to restore your apps. Not only will this re-install your apps and games, but it will even restore saved game data and other information associated with those apps.

You can find download links at the xda-developers forum, or you can download the ROM and gApps directly from goo.im.

Performing a fresh install of Android 4.2 on an original Kindle Fire

If you’ve never installed a custom ROM on your Kindle Fire, then you’ll want to download the latest version of the Kindle Fire Utility and use it to install TWRP or ClockworkMod Recovery as well as the FireFireFire Bootloader.

Amazon Kindle Fire Utility

You can find more details about the Kindle Fire Utility in our article on using it to root a Kindle Fire running software version 6.3.1.

Once you’ve installed a custom recovery, you can skip to the “Boot into TWRP” section of our tutorial on installing custom ROMs on the Kindle Fire.

It’s a good idea to make a backup of your system in case anything goes wrong — or in case you want to restore the tablet to its current condition.

Then you can use TWRP or ClockworkMod to wipe your device and install Android 4.2.

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29 replies on “Install Android 4.2 on the original Amazon Kindle Fire”

  1. The original Kindle Fire also does not have an on board GPS receiver. So you can forget about Google Maps and the like. That was the number one reason I upgraded to a Nexus 7.

  2. Thanks a lot of the information here. I just hacked my Kindle Fire to Jellybean 4.2.2. Everything works, and faster than before. Especially Youtube, which I use frequently, works much better now.

  3. Hello, I would like to thank the contribution with android 4.2, in my case the deep sleep works.
    I wanted to ask if android 4.2 supports USB connections to peripherals.
    thanks

  4. Hello,
    Thank for you sharing.
    Does it work with the Kindle Fire HD 7″?
    Thank you!

  5. Thanks the posting this, Brad. I rooted my KF and and installed Android 4.2 using the directions in Hashcode’s thread over on XDNA. Works like a charm minus a few issues. Being able to run the apps I bought for my phone is great.

  6. Although the word “Windows” does not appear anywhere in this article, the arcticle is completely useless for Apple and Linux users.

    1. Why point it out when most people use Windows anyway. Or should we call everything by obvious names.

  7. why would it just blink on and off with the message “unfortunately the application has stopped” and not shut down or anything?

  8. I rooted my Kindle using Kindle Fire Utility 0.9.6. per the instructions in “How to root a Kindle Fire with Software Version 6.3.1” Everything worked great. I then installed Android 4.2 and the latest gApps per this article and everything works great except Netflix. The app does everything it’s suppose to except actually stream the show I want to watch. It just stays on “loading” Netflix works fine on all my tvs and my wife’s iPad. Does anyone know what the issue might be and a fix? Should I flash another OS?

  9. Before I try this…I’m using an old Mac running OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard). What Mac OS did you use? Thanks.

  10. Hello. I tried to manually push the u-boot and the recovery img manually, after the command to reboot; My Kindle does not power on anymore. I try charging it but nothing happens. Please help me.

    Thanks

    1. Pull down the notification bar on the right side and choose Settings. Then go to the Sound tab and choose “Volume.”

      It’s kind of a hassle… which is why it’d be nice to have hardware volume buttons. You can also search for third party apps that give you a volume widget on the home screen.

  11. How much rundown are we talking about? When I had a rooted Touchpad I had to charge it every two days when it had CM9 on it… kinda wary about making my KF into a recharge hog.

    1. You would need to tether it to a phone with GPS (high accuracy) or leave WiFi on ( low accuracy)

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