Jailbreaking The Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon’s newest e-ink reader featuring a touch interface with a higher contrast display, is now officially jailbroken.

[geekmaster], the geek master behind this hack, based his jailbreak off [Yifan]’s previous hack  to jailbreak the Kindle Touch. Installation is a snap, and only requires you to upload the data.stgz file to the root directory of the Paperwhite and restart the device. On the next boot, the Paperwhite will be jailbroken, allowing you to do tons of cool stuff with a tiny Linux device connected to an e-ink screen.

We’ve already seen a few really cool uses for jailbroken Kindles including a weather station display and a serial terminal for your Raspberry Pi. Cracking the newer and better Kindle Paperwhite means those e-ink projects you’ve been thinking about building just became much more attractive.

One word of warning from [geekmaster], though: USB downloader mode isn’t yet enabled. If you brick your device, you’ll need to connect your Kindle to a serial port. This shouldn’t be a problem for Hackaday readers, but it is something to watch out for.

32 thoughts on “Jailbreaking The Kindle Paperwhite

  1. Looks like a good forum for info. Got my unit this week but it’s already 5.2.0 and this jailbreak is for 5.1.x. That’s even with keeping it in Airplane mode for the last two days.

  2. Actually, I wish to share credit with other Kindle developers who hang out at the MobileRead Kindle Developer’s Corner, including [yifanlu], [NiLuJe], and [ixtab]. I was the only member of this “inner circle” who already had this new Kindle device, and they kindly provided suggestions of things to try when I was running short on things to try after various attempts had failed. As a bit of a shock to us all, even though our most-used exploit vectors are currently closed, the old Kindle Touch (K5) jailbreak for firmware version 5.1.x works!

    Because this new device has a new serial number prefix, update packages using the jailbreak key must be repackaged. I installed the “simple USBNet package for the K5 (touch), repackaged for the paperwhite by [NiLuJe], which gives me a root shell over SSH.

    Thanks guys (and thanks amazon)!

  3. Kindles do not run iOS or android. They run linux underneath, with a framework made of Java and HTML.

    On the kindles, jailbreak does NOT root your kindle. It only installs a jailbreak key, so that you can put custom update packages on its USB drive and then select “Update Your Kindle” from the settings menu.

    I also rooted my kindle, by installing the USBNet package, and looking up my root password using my serial number, using the javascript web page provided at the link.

    So in kindle terminology, jailbreak and root are different things. Many people jailbreak their kindles to add custom fonts, and never install USBNet to root their device.

  4. Since very few people who ordered the Paperwhite kindle have received it yet, this jailbreak will become much more popular AFTER more people have a device to run it on.

    Amazon just reduced the order limit from five to two per customer, and increased the shipping lead time to four weeks after you order. And no shipments outside the US yet. I ordered three before the new limit, and two of the more prolific devs in Europe will get the other two Paperwhite Kindles shipped to them when I get them.

  5. I keep pressing “Report”. That is where the “Quote” button is on the MobileRead forum, so I press it automatically.

    Hmm… I just noticed that the name started automatically filling in as “Anonymous Coward” instead of geekmaster.

    I am longer the only person with a jailbroken kindle. There are many now. And we are on the verge of having Doom running on our eink kindles too (faster than the framerate shown in the Nook Simple Touch videos).

    I will soon port the “geekmaster kindle video player” to the new paperwhite, so you can watch the silent films posted with it on your kindle. They are surprisingly good, with much more fluid animation than expected. Of course, I am “overclocking” the eink, by pushing new frames to it before it reports that it is ready. :-D

  6. Paperwhite 5.2 jailbreak went without a flaw… HOWEVER, no matter what you try to install to the root (.bin) format for other hacks, “Update Your Kindle” is still greyed out. AND regardless, once you disconnect the kindle from the USB any and all .BIN files in the root simply disappear. Thus why the greyed out condition likely stays. Great progress so quickly, but something is still missing.

    1. As mentioned at the MobileRead page, the Paperwhite kindle has a new serial number prefix, requiring hacks to be repackaged to support that new prefix. Using an old K5 hack will not ungray UYK (Update Your Kindle menu item) allowing you to install that K5 hack. A repackaged hack WILL ungray UYK allowing you to install it.

      The devs who made and support most of the hacks do not yet have their Paperwhites yet.

      However, NiLuJe has repackaged the “simple USBNet” hack to work with the Paperwhite, and added a download link for it to the page where you download the Jailbreak (now updated to versin 1.4 so it has a fullscreen Jailbreak image, instead of displaying the previous smaller image in the upper left corner).

      You can also extract and repackage hacks yourself using package management tools provided at the MobileRead website. To help find these things, you can use the “Master Index” sticky thread in the Kindle Developer’s Corner forum at MobileRead.

      Because we are so early in the custom development cycle on this hard-to-get new kindle, it may take awhile for all the popular hacks to get ported (or at least repackaged) for this device.

      In the meantime, you can install the USBNet package to get root shell on the new kindle, and do whatever you want. If you do not have a Paperwhite yet, you can check out the “Simple Debricking” sticky thread to find how to explore the kindle firmware without needing one in your hands…

      Good luck.

      1. correction: s/versin/version/

        NiLuJe has also updated his first post in the Jailbreak thread to make it less confusing regarding the Paperwhite kindle. The thread title has been changed to include “5.2.0” and “Paperwhite” (at my urging). ;-)

        This was especially important because my Paperwhite Jailbreak announcement thread linked here was NOT used as the reference link on most other external posts scattered across the net. Instead, most of them linked directly to NiLuJe’s “5.1.x Kindle Touch Jailbreak” (now re-titled). That caused confusion, so that those other sites have user comments saying “5.1.x not for Paperwhite” or similar.

        If the other sites had linked to my Paperwhite Jailbreak thread, it would have been clear that the 5.1.x Jailbreak DOES work on the Paperwhite.

        But it should all be less confusing now, so no longer a problem. Thanks NiLuJe!

    2. @Gestus Haggen: It is normal for .bin files to disappear on a reboot. The restart menu (or other reboot method) does not install a .bin file. Only the UYK menu item can do that. And to ungray it, only a .bin file packaged for the Paperwhite can be used. The only repackaged hack I know of at this time is “simple USBnet” at the same post as the Jailbreak download. Install that for a root shell on the kindle. Other hacks will follow.

      1. typo: s/Gestus/Festus/

        Where is the HaD edit button? I depend on that feature at MobileRead. HaD really needs it two (even though it would require a login)…

        Sadly, geekmaster was already taken in your (hidden/offsite) login system, so I show up as geekmaster69 instead. I had to logout to post anonymously as geekmaster…

  7. Thanks for the quick reply… makes sense. I will go the USBNet route and mount with full manual control. The PW just arrived yesterday and the first thing I did was try to apply the hacks from the previous touch –

  8. Not only did the old Kindle Touch jailbreak work on the Paperwhite, but the geekmaster kindle video player also works with no changes. I just played the Harrold Lloyd silent film on my Paperwhite — you know the famous scene where he is dangling from a clock while climbing a tall building, right? Here is the original from youtube:

    Now I just need to film it playing on my kindle and post that to youtube (some day RSN). :-D

      1. Is there a way to upload custom screensavers onto a Paperwhite without special offers? Hacked or not.

        I don’t have the Paperwhite yet. I just want to know if there was a way. So I could decide whether to but with or without special offers.

  9. Hi all,
    I downloaded the kindle-jailbreak-1.4.N.zip, and copied the data.stgz per instruction states.
    I followed step-by-step, although it was jailbroken, I cannot read epub format files.
    The firmware on my Kindle Paperwhite is 5.2.0

    People, if you have this version, please do NOT try to jailbreak it yet, as kindle-jailbreak-1.4.N.zip didn’t seem to make my kindle paperwhite to read epub files.

    1. Kindles natively use mobi format, not epub. Jailbreak does not add epub support. It only adds an update installer key so that you can install other hacks using the “Update Your Kindle” menu. There are hacks that can read epub, but you need to install them.

      Also, for support, you should ask questions where you got the jailbreak files (i.e. MobileRead).

      Again, the jailbreak does not do ANYTHING except add a jailbreak key. To add features, you need to install things using that jailbreak key. You can even get a root shell on the kindle if you install the USBNet package.

  10. Presuming a complete lack of linux programming skills I am asking, can this hack be used to redirect video signals from a Mac? Again, with a complete lack of experience, does this hack infer that it can be used as a display on an Arduino or Raspberry Pi?

  11. What would I be able to do with an jailbroken Kindle Paperwhite? Would I be able to install Android Apps on it? Facebook claims that my Kindle is an Android when I logged in.

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