Full Linux Distro On A Nook Color

We should have included a footnote in the title. You can say that [Thomas Polasek] installed a full version of Arch Linux on his Nook Color, but there’s one caveat. It’s running on top of the Android kernel and his proof-of-concept uses a second computer to get it up and running. But there’s potential for that to change moving forward.

Unlike previous attempts to run a Linux distro on Android, this does away with using a VNC to show the desktop. [Thomas] is commandeering Android’s frame buffer so that it can be used by the X desktop without needing to set up display drivers. To start off he installed a ROM based on CM7. A couple of Android apps give him the functionality needed to get the Arch Linux distro running from the SD card. This is accomplished by tunneling into the tablet via SSH, and using the ‘chroot’ command to make it active. The hope is that this can somehow be automated by a script.

A female to female USB coupler was used to connect the keyboard and mouse to the Nook. It looks like LXDE would be useless without them; touch control is not yet implemented. Those shortcomings aside, everything seems to be running pretty fast in the video after the break.

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Using The Nook As A Keyboard

[Andrew] has been pining for an Optimus Maximus – a keyboard with a small LCD screen in each key – for years. Like a lot of people, he love the idea of a completely configurable keyboard, but balked at the two thousand dollar price tag. Although it doesn’t have full color OLED screens behind each key, [Andrew]’s nook simple touch can be used as a keyboard just the same.

After rooting his new nook, [Andrew] had a very nice tablet computer, and the only Android device with an e-ink screen. Although[Andrew] never wrote an Android app before, he wanted to do a proof of concept build to see if a nook keyboard would actually work. The “keyboard app” is actually just a webpage hosted on his home server. When he presses a virtual key, JavaScript sends an ASCII value back to the server where it is decoded and sent to xte.

[Andrew] says his build works, but not very well. Opera mini doesn’t like the homebrew server he set up, and Cyrillic characters are a no go. Still, it works, and looks like an awesome application for an e-ink tablet with a proper Android app. Demo after the break.

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Nook Color Gets Honeycomb

[Deeper-blue] has released all the files necessary to get Android honeycomb working on your nook color. We had a chance to play with the nook color for a bit, but ours was only on Android version 2.1. It seems like they’ve come a long way with the capabilities of this simple e-reader since then.  While he’s built out the majority of the features, it is still lacking some fundamentals, like sound. As you can see in the video after the break, the scrolling is a tiny bit choppy but the applications themselves see to be fairly snappy. We can’t wait to see how this works after a little improvement.


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Nook Color Rooted: Hands On

Nookdevs have released information on how to root your nook color. So naturally, I had to run out and get one.  Who doesn’t want a multitouch android tablet for $250?  The instructions for rooting are extremely simple. You really only need microSD card and a Linux/Windows/Mac computer to connect to.  After rooting, your nook will work exactly as it did before, but you can now install android applications on it.  Many applications are built for a phone that has more physical buttons, so I have run into some issues, but over all, the applications that work tend to work well.

Join me after the break for more thoughts, a video of it in action, and a few pictures.

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New Nook Says: No Root For You!

That is a blurry image of a Barnes & Noble Nook eReader stuck in an infinite reboot loop. This is the result of trying to downgrade the firmware to 1.0 in preparation to soft-root the device. So after a few failures the device will recover itself, right? It doesn’t look that way. No problem, don’t you just pop it open and re-write the OS to the SD card inside to do a hardware root? Nope, it looks like the newest hardware revision has replaced that convenient SD card with a memory chip.

For now it’s a brick, but we’re sure there will soon be a way to fix this. A bit of solder, some wires, and a reflash should work much in the same way an EEPROM recovery does. That is, if you have an original image to work with.

So for now, be careful not to attempt to root your nook if the serial number starts with 1003.

[Thanks Ken]

Nook Rooted Without Being Opened

If you’ve got a nook, and wanted to get root privileges, but really didn’t want to open up your fancy new toy. We have good news. The people over at nookdevs have found that the nook looks for updates from the external microSD slot at boot time. Simply download the patch, load it and boot. Though it was previously possible to get root privileges before, you had to physically open the device. While we would have opened it anyway, we understand that there may be people who prefer not to.

How To Root A Nook

Here’s the latest in rooted consumer devices, nookdevs.com has rooted the Barnes & Noble Nook eBook reader. The process is extremely easy, as the operating system is stored on a 2GB SD card inside the device. In fact, once you have the case open the hard part is over. From there, the card should be backed up for safe keeping. Now mount the card, enable the Android Debug Bridge and reassemble. The Android SDK can then be used to log into a shell on the Nook wirelessly.

We’re not sure there’s much that can be done past this point yet. It’s up to you to get Doom running!