I’ve got a first generation Kindle Fire. But I was frustrated by the Amazon software: You can’t install apps from the Google Play store, and a lot of features that other Android tablets have are either disabled or crippled.
So, thanks to the hard work of the folks down at the XDA Developers forum, I replaced the software with the Android 4.2.1, the same software that runs the new Nexus 7 tablets.
I have found the Android experience to be superior in almost every way; the only thing I’ve given up is the ability to watch Instant Watch videos and the ability to use the Amazon Prime Lending Library, two features I never used anyway. In exchange, I now have a full-featured tablet.
Here’s how I did it (mostly for my own reference if I ever need to do it again); no guarantees that this will work for you:
- Use the Kindle Fire Utility to install FireFireFire! and TWRP. FireFireFire is a bootloader, a menu that lets you choose between the standard firmware and something else when rebooting. TWRP is a recovery tool that lets you backup, restore, wipe out, and install software onto the tablet.
Getting these installed is the trickiest part of the process. Here are the details:
- Download the software and unzip it to a folder
- Make sure the Kindle is unplugged from the PC
- If your Windows user name has a space in it, you’ll need to edit the install_drivers.bat file: on Lines 9 and 10, put quotes around anything that has %userprofile% in it, so that they look like this:
if not EXIST "%userprofile%\.android\" ( mkdir "%userprofile%\.android\" ) copy drivers\kindle\adb_usb.ini "%userprofile%\.android\adb_usb.ini"
- Open a command prompt as administrator and navigate to the folder
- Run install_drivers.bat, allowing the unsigned driver to install
- Plug in the Kindle Fire
- Run run.bat
- At the bottom of the menu it will say “ADB Status: Online.” If it does not, reboot the kindle and then push 0 to check again. If it still does not, something has gone wrong and you’re on your own.
- Once you’ve gotten that sorted out, select the menu options for Install FireFireFire and Install TWRP. Everything should just install smoothly from there. If it does not, check that forum thread for the Kindle Fire Utility linked above.
Boot into the TWRP recovery by turning off the Kindle. Turn it back on, and then tap the power button once the Kindle Fire logo pops up to switch into Recovery Mode.
Push the Back Up button in the TWRP menu to back up your current data. For this and the next few steps, you can also follow along with this guide; he’s got screenshots.
Factory reset your tablet by tapping Wipe, then Factory Reset. THIS WILL ERASE EVERYTHING. MAKE SURE YOU DID THE BACKUP STEP FIRST IF YOU CARE ABOUT ANY OF THE DATA ON YOUR TABLET.
Go back to the main menu and choose Mount; this will make the Kindle show up as a flash drive on your PC. You’re going to need to copy over 3 zip files:
Once you’ve gotten those zip files copied over to the Kindle, unmount it from your computer, then go to Install and choose all three of those files.
Once installed, it will give you the option to “Wipe Cache/Dalvik.” Do that.
Reboot the kindle. If all went well, you’re now running Android 4.2.1 on your Kindle! If it did not, at least you made a backup, right?