Amazon may be busy selling its third-generation of Kindle Fire tablets this fall, but the original Kindle Fire which was launched in 2011 still has its charms. The tablet has a 7 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel IPS display, 512MB of RAM and 8GB of storage — and if you don’t already have one, you can usually pick up a used or refurbished model for well under $100.
The original Kindle Fire also happens to be a surprisingly hackable device. It ships with Amazon’s Fire OS, which is based on Android. But hackers have been running CyanogenMod and other Android ROMs on the tablet since shortly after it launched
Now, just a few weeks after Google released the source code for Android 4.4 KitKat, you can even run KitKat-based ROMs on the tablet.
Developer FuZZ__ has released an unofficial build of CyanogenMod 11 for the original Amazon Kindle Fire. He calls it Kitkang, and it’s basically a customized version of CM11 Alpha that’s been compiled to run on Amazon’s tablet.
Performance isn’t perfect yet — there are some graphical glitches and the stock web browser doesn’t work very well. But you can install another web browser such as Firefox or Dolphin. Hardware-accelerated video playback seems to work, and I was able to stream video from Netflix without any problems.
Overall, Android 4.4 for the Kindle Fire is still very much a work in progress. But considering the fact that Amazon doesn’t officially support the software, and Google hasn’t really done anything to ensure compatibility with the hardware, it’s impressive that there’s an even semi-functional build of KitKat for the first-generation Amazon Kindle Fire so soon.
The easiest way to install Kitkang on the original Kindle Fire is to use the Kindle Fire Utility to install a custom recovery such as TWRP 126.96.36.199 which you can use to load the operating system.
If you already have a custom recovery, you’re probably good to go — but if you use TWRP, make sure you’ve got the latest version or you won’t be able to flash an Android 4.4 ROM. It’s also probably a good idea to make a backup of your device before installing any ROMs.
You’ll also probably want to install a Google Apps file to add access to the Play Store and other Google services. You can either try a build with all of the Google Apps or a minimal 20MB file which installs the Google Play Store and not much else, allowing you to install other apps manually.