Hot Rodding Amazon's Kindle Fire Touchscreen Tablet: New Home Page, Android Market App, and Rooting the Fire

Amazon Kindle Fire Straight Out of the Box

A ton of fun stock from the box, or after hot-rodding the living daylights out of it.
A ton of fun stock from the box, or after hot-rodding the living daylights out of it.

Warning:

Do not read this article. At least, not unless you have a Kindle Fire (or thinking about getting one) and are considering:

  • Changing the front end
  • Rooting your Kindle Fire
  • Installing the Android Market.

If you'd rather learn the tech specs, go here:

Kindle Fire Tablet - Full Color 7 Inch Multi-Touch with WiFi

If you want a hands-on review (based on my first week of owning one), go here:

My Personal Experience with the Amazon Kindle Fire Touchscreen Tablet - A Hands On Review

If you're considering modifying your Fire beyond Amazon's recommendations, then you've come to the right place. Keep reading!

Koi Live Wallpaper

It's free, and looks beautiful... I want one! The fish swim randomly around, and are fed by tapping on the screen.
It's free, and looks beautiful... I want one! The fish swim randomly around, and are fed by tapping on the screen.

I Want a Swimming Koi Wallpaper!!


Well, I said I wasn't going to do it. I like Amazon's Kindle Fire as is. It runs smoothly, the controls are intuitive, and I've really enjoyed it.

But I'm a gadget guy. I kept looking at that front screen, and thinking... it'd be nice to get rid of that history carousel.

Then I'd look over at Monique playing with her Viewsonic GTab, and see her cool Koi Fishpond Live Wallpaper. It's got a background with Koi swimming around, and when you touch the screen, the water ripples and you feed the fish. How cool is that?

The lure turned out to be too irresistible... I just couldn't help myself.


The Need for ... Everything!


So, I guess I should have known. If I can fiddle around with the software, I probably will. Let me make this absolutely clear, though:

The Kindle runs nicely and is very easy to use as is. Straight from the box. There's no powerfully compelling reason to modify it, unless you just like to tinker with it.

My downfall is the urge to improve. I don't just want a Kindle, I want a Kindle Fire. And I don't just want a Kindle Fire, I want a souped-up Kindle Fire!

The Kindle Fire History Carousel Update I'd Like To See


That said, here's what happened...

Like I've mentioned in the last hub, Aldiko took care of my one real complaint. But I still had a couple of "wouldn't it be cool" wishes. First, to reduce or get rid of the history carousel.

Really, Amazon, give us the choice, please! I don't mind it showing on the home page, but let me, the owner, choose what part of the page and how much screen space to give it.

And maybe give it a little intelligence regarding what gets shown. If I transfer 200 books from my computer to my Kindle, I really, truly, don't need all 200 books showing up one after the other on the Carousel. Maybe Amazon could 'group' sets of similar items that were referenced in sequence? I'd be fine with it if it just had one icon for all those books, with a label that read "added 200 books".

Go Launcher Ex

My Favorite Kindle Fire alternate launcher
My Favorite Kindle Fire alternate launcher | Source

My New Wood-themed Home Page

Theme provided by the Go Store:  for Free!
Theme provided by the Go Store: for Free!

Go Launcher Ex: A Whole New Home Page for the Fire


I don't know. Those are just random thoughts about something minor to me. Still, I googled the subject, just to see what other people are saying. Found a how-to website that showed me how to install Go Launcher Ex, an alternate launching app.

That was an excellent solution, and I didn't even have to root the Fire. As a matter of fact, I have NOT set a default launch app. Now, every time I hit the "Home" icon, I can choose if I want to go to the stock Kindle Fire home page, or the Go Launcher Ex home page. (If you're not familiar with it, it looks pretty much like the standard Android interface. Since the Fire is a tweaked Android, it's a pretty easy change to make.

Now it's MY choice... Standard Kindle, or Android Kindle. And I can choose either, every time I tap "Home".

(If you'd rather NOT choose each time, you can easily make Go Launcher Ex the default. Go Launcher Ex was originally available for the Fire on Amazon, until Amazon decided they didn't like the competition. Now you have to get it elsewhere.)

Looks even better horizontally:

My current apps shown here
My current apps shown here

Screenshot of my Fire on the Android Market

All systems are go, Captain!
All systems are go, Captain!

Kindle Fire and Android Market


That should have been it. Now even the minor carousel quibble is controlled by me. But I started looking at what else Go Launcher Ex can do. Like wallpapers, themes, and Live Wallpapers. Remember that cool Live Wallpaper Monique has on her GTab? The Koi that swim around? Go Launcher Ex can do those!

But Amazon for Android won't allow me to put that stuff on my Kindle. Finding them to sideload is possible, but a lot of hassle. The obvious solution? Mod my Kindle Fire to run the Android Market App. Then I can run other wallpapers and themes, plus have access to more apps than I'll EVER need.



Getting 'Fire'd Up: Installing Android Market isn't as easy as I'd have liked


Notice I didn't say 'the easy solution.' That's because it's kind of an extended bit of work. First you have to root the Fire. I was kind of hoping to avoid that. Amazon doesn't prevent modders from rooting, and all the other stuff... they just don't encourage it. For instance, if your Kindle Fire is rooted, you can't download streaming movies through Amazon. For me, no big deal. I don't anyway. Even if you do, the solution is to Root the Fire, install Android Market, then unroot the Fire. Once you've gone to the trouble of Rooting it, Unrooting is very easy. And the Android Market will continue to function, even once you've Unrooted the Fire.

I'm not a Super-Geek

After you've decided to root it, there are several steps, software to download and install (on your Fire and on your computer), files on your own computer that have to be hand-edited, and apps you'll need. Honestly, it's not so much that it's ... hard... but you have to be pretty tech-literate, have a lot of patience, be able to follow detailed instructions, and figure out what 2 and 2 are all by yourself (because sometimes, there's nobody around to help!)

Okay, maybe it was hard. For me, anyway. I'm not a super-geek. Just an ordinary run-of-the-mill, guy next door who loves computers, kind of geek.

The Links You'll Need to Modify Amazons Kindle Fire


Anyway, if you're still interested after all that, below are the most critical links you'll need. I used information from each of these pages at some point. Plus, there are several links within those pages that you'll have to use along the way.

Personalize Your Kindle Fire Without Rooting

How To Sideload Apps (Even the Android Market) on the Amazon Kindle Fire

How To Root and Amazon Kindle Fire

How To: Enable ADB on your Kindle Fire (Windows)

(This one is useful if you're having trouble with the "echo 0x1949 >> "%USERPROFILE%\.android\adb_usb.ini" line.)

How to root / jailbreak Kindle Fire using one click solution – SuperOneClick, also enable sideloading apps

Just for the record, as a computer geek of only average standing, I found the above guides to be anywhere from 'easy' to 'reasonably hard'. Even when things weren't going as well as I'd hoped, these guides did a good job helping me figure out what to do.

On a scale of 1=easy to 10=very difficult, if modding Moniques Viewsonic GTablet was a '10' difficulty, this was a '5'.

Don't toast your Kindle!


Bear in mind, I'm pretty certain making these changes voids the warranty. Also, any time you mess around with "That which Amazon has decreed", you're risking your entire system. (Odds on this one are pretty low... I haven't heard of anybody actually messing their Kindle up... but I'm certain it's possible.)

Just remember- there's always a risk, no guarantees, and if something goes wrong, it's entirely your own responsibility. If you're not willing to take the chance, just stay with the stock Kindle Fire. It's a snappy little system already!

My Kindle as an Android

That's another Live Wallpaper- the galaxy spins.
That's another Live Wallpaper- the galaxy spins.

Now you can drive your Kindle Fire on the Android side of the road


At this point, if you've taken the plunge and made the changes, you can now go on the Android Market and get all kinds of cool stuff. One of the first apps I got was a "Super-Man Cartoon" player; It played the very old Max Fleischer Superman cartoons. (I know these cartoons have attitudes that can be offensive in today's society, but the animation quality for the time is seriously outstanding)

That aside, I also found a bunch of live wallpapers, and a theme or two. After doing all that work, I went to Go Launcher Ex's store (from the Kindle) and downloaded a bookshelf theme/wallpaper that looks like a wooden bookshelf. Now my hot-rodded Kindle Fire has a background very similar to the stock Kindle Fire background. Stealth mode, anyone?

In Stock Kindle Fire Mode:

Back to the usual:  A Stock Amazon Kindle Fire (or so it appears!)
Back to the usual: A Stock Amazon Kindle Fire (or so it appears!)

Amazon Kindle: When is a Fire not a Fire


All this has given me an unusual conflict. The Kindle Fire has a very unique and identifiable look-and-feel. Not to mention, it's a lot of fun to use.

After a lot of work, I've turned it into a tablet that... looks and acts... just... like... everybody else's tablet.

Only, with the touch of a finger, it turns back into the regular Kindle Fire. Like a Super-hero with a secret identity!

If you need to SEE it, here's a video guide:

I just wanted MY Kindle to be cooler than the next guy's Kindle!


I can do some things better in Kindle Fire mode.

I can do some things better in Android mode.

It looks cool in both modes.

In the long run, all I've done is customize it to be MORE functional, in a manner that pleases me. I didn't HAVE to. I didn't even plan to. When I wrote the previous hub about my first week on the Kindle Fire, I even stated that I had no intention of modifying it.

Turns out, I just couldn't resist. Excuse me, I have to go play with my Kindle Fire now.

More by this Author


Comments 16 comments

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

So many gadgets and so few hours to spend with them, not to mention all the $$$ - I could seriously have all of them and not get a thing done. Maybe I'll get Griffin a Kindle Fire Touchscreen Tablet - at least that way I could justify the purchase, right??

As always, informative and love your disclaimer at the top.


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

I know the feeling. Wouldn't it be awesome to be a tester for new tech toys?

I'm certain Griffin needs (and would appreciate) a Kindle Fire. And if he doesn't, then you'll just have to bite the bullet and accept his hand-me-downs!

Lol... the disclaimer? That's because this hub was SUPPOSED to be a one-paragraph addition to the previous hub. When it became some 2,000 words, I realized I'd have to handle it differently!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

That's hilarious~ It was a really good paragraph though...and Griffin is now claiming he needs a Kindle for 'doggie school'. Me thinks he's out of his malamute mind~


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

LOLIRL... Laughing out loud in real life! You always have a way with words! Though, come to think of it... there've been some very interesting online courses offered these days. Still, I'd check on tuition costs first.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

My strong suit me thinks...I think I need to get a life when I start assigning human characteristics to my mals but they truly do make me think sometimes they could just about grasp anything....except the command when I need them to do it~ Maybe that will come with doggie school.

As an aside, Griffin is back in class with the Gabster - it seems some dogs can't get enough of training...or maybe it's their owners~ I only hope one of these days my left arm is not 5 inches longer than my right and hoping it shrinks back to size soon. Doggie school rocks! I am going to draw the line though if he wants me to spring for a letterman's jacket - that is just plain ridiculous with all that fur~

Happy Thanksgiving~~~ and onward to the madness we call the holidays!


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

It's not that Griffin can't grasp it, he just chooses not to. Our dogs share the same school of thought...

Not clear if Griffin NEEDS the training, or just enjoys it. But a letterman jacket seems like a reasonable request.

Happy Thanksgiving!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Indeed - I think he definitely should letter in counter cruising as a sport or perhaps music since he is one heck of a howler monkey~

Griff actually might like the Kindle to be honest as he regularly (no kidding on this one) watches TV. His favorite of course are nature programs as he finds comedies slightly 'boring'. Maybe because he is a stitch all by himself~


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

Our little chihuahua is quite acrobatic about getting places she's not supposed to be. But Griff sounds like he's in a class all by himself! Does he get his own armchair to watch tv and eat dinner from?


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

No - we draw the line at him setting up a TV tray as he is just too big of an oaf. He does have his bed though and his favorite toy that he clutches in his mouth when he is watching something too exciting like grizzlies or the wolves in Yellowstone.

We actually get a little worried as he has tried now to jump up on the TVs and see where we are hiding the animals behind the TV - he's trying to figure out why he can see them but he can't get AT them behind the screen. He usually starts howling at them or barking. Gabby and Denaya just shake their heads and go to their respective beds as they do not partake in TV~ They are more into piano and reading~~


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

Laughing so hard it's bringing tears to my eyes... I think your dogs must have gotten into the same chemicals that mutated the Teenaged Turtles. Our dogs lack the finesse. Old and scruffy (Scarlett) eats dirt. White Fang (Pixie) is a Chihuahua, and everybody must have her permission to move from their assigned spots. And Tootsie (the Schnauzer) loves everybody in the world. All she wants to to be close to somebody... anybody.

Your dogs, on the other hand, smoke sophisticated pipe tobaccos, wear tweed jackets with denim elbow patches, and discuss masterpiece theatre during the after-dinner drinks. If I ship mine off to you for a month, can you citi-fy them (Like Jed wanted for Elly Mae?)


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

That has to be a joke (Griffin just read this over my shoulder and is asking....) - WHITE FANG, Mom, he said, for a chihuahua - I gotta meet this chick~~

Poor old scruffy Scarlett has nothing on Griffin - or Gabby for that matter - they will eat just about anything including plastic buckets I put their toys in, the rolls of English muffins off the counter, the uncooked hamburger that was just there a minute ago, and sigh...the turkey meatballs that were just there. Let's not forget the 11 sauerkraut and pumpkin muffins - god bless it, Griffin!!!

Tootsie would be one of the crowd with ours - they do believe they are lap dogs after all. We were just talking tonight coming home from training on how we need to use the WAIT command to our advantage. We need to actually BE IN THE BED before we let them jump on it so that we are not the ones scrabbling for the covers and trying to wedge our old bodies in amongst at least 2 malamutes! What is wrong with this picture?

Living in a hillbilly town, my 'sophisticated' dogs are really shunned though. People think we're all uppity and I can't quite figure it out. Doesn't everyone's dog smoke a pipe?

Ha ha - all in fun - your poor hub is becoming a doggie dialogue~ I must have Griffin get on line and review it or at least look up some specs on it so he can make a review! I'd ask Gabby but she is too young for this stuff. All she wants to do is think about her nails and reading Teen Magazine. And sadly, Denaya is usually snoring after reading her latest romance novel by this time at night.

Send away - your poor pups will never be the same~ We actually recently had 5 dogs here with a house full of people. For ours being 'wicked dogs', they tolerated a 20 pound puggle who literally rode them around just about like ponies and a very old lab who needs his own rubber room. There was only 1 skirmish and no animals were hurt in the making of dinner - thankfully!

Lastly, I never let my dogs have after dinner drinks. They are mean drunks so I made them lay off~


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

All in fun! Ask Griffin to be gentle in his review. You make Griffin sound like the only intellectual of the bunch. Gabby and Denaya sound like typical shallow teenagers. We occasionally get the housefull of dogs too. There may be clashing egos, but nobody ever gets hurt. Of course, like you, we had to cut down on their alcohol consumption. Pixie especially just can't drink and drive. No self control.

Their nicknames all developed for privacy. If you say their name out loud, it's like standing in front of a mirror and reciting 'Candyman' 3 times.

"Mean Spinster Aunt" was considered for Scarlett, but rejected on the grounds that several of our relatives might think it was a personal insult. Personally, I'm not too sure "Old and Scruffy" won't be taken in the same spirit. Scarlett's actually pretty cool, she just doesn't tolerate wild behavior.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

That is hysterical - Denaya is actually the old grand damme of our threesome and she does not tolerate much of any kind of rowdy behavior. She is incredibly more tolerant of Gabby than she was of Griffin but I always say 'go girl' when a female has the knack of putting a guy in his place~~~ ha ha - all in fun.

Seriously though - what would we do without them all? At the moment, they are the bliss and the pain of my existence as training 80-90 pound dogs is getting a little hard on my old lady arms. I currently have a shoulder blade that feels like it is sideways from all the tugging and I have had to order a THUNDER SHIRT (are you kidding me) for my darling Griffin as he cannot seem to get his exuberance under control. He's had a few very bad experiences - with dogs and people unfortunately - outside our home and now he has developed some kind of anxiety. I really should be making youtube videos of this crap - it would definitely be up there all the time as #1 laugh of the day.

Gotta finish up here at the old grind and then head out with 2 of the 3 with pinch collars in place manned with treats and gloves and trip up and down through the hillbilly town we live in training and training. Just like kids - it never ends~

If I ever have 5 minutes to spare, shall have to try and do a hub on my taming of Griffin - the second chapter. He was doing really well but somewhere, we dropped the ball - or the leash I should say - and now we have to work really hard to get him back to his comfort zone and us to ours I guess....or keep him at home for the rest of his natural life which is not something I'd like to face. Gotta get back on those scooters but have to fix the anxiety problem first - or get him started on drinking~

I'll remember that too - no drinking and driving for Gabby or Griffin~~~ although he may benefit from a couple of swigs.


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

Thunder Shirt- never heard of that before. Had to look it up, but it looks amazing! Hope it helps Griffin. Knowing how you are with your dogs, I'm sure Griffin (and Denaya and Gabby) are enjoying the best possible lives. I think you're right about a hub- it would be both educational and humorous. You're right, it never ends. Especially Pixie, she requires constant reinforcement, she's always testing where the lines are drawn.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Multiply that by 1000 times and I think we have the same dog~ Griffin IS Pixie although he still wants to date her! He is actually in a class with a 96 pound PUPPY who is a Great Dane/Mastiff mix (he weighs in at 90-95 but he looks huge with all that puff) and the Mastiff is only 9 months old. He will eventually weigh 220 pounds at least. I just shake my head. I definitely need to write this somewhere~ See ya next time and definitely think you should write some hubs on your fearsome threesome~! I will counter by writing about my goofy threesome!


Crewman6 profile image

Crewman6 5 years ago Author

Wow, that's just amazing. Those are huge dogs anyway, I can't imagine how big it would look... fluffy. You're right- we both need to right hubs about our pack.

See you later!

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