By February 8, 2012

How I Rooted My Amazon Kindle Fire and Installed Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

I bought a Kindle Fire at launch day. In short, I wasn’t very impressed. The mainstream media articles that followed my post echoed a lot of my sentiments: the Silk Web browser sucked, the home screen was not intuitive and led to privacy concerns, and Amazon’s decision to bar the official Google app Market left a lot of users with only a portion of their programs on their Kindle.

Sedagive? was fine with the Amazon user experience, so she was my Fire’s caretaker ever since my review.

The Android development community immediately went to work rooting and hacking the Kindle Fire. Over three months later, their efforts are finally far enough along that I was ready to try the Kindle Fire again.

I bought a second Fire last week. I rooted it so I had access to the most advanced permissions and capabilities of the device. Then I installed a backup program in case something went wrong. After that, I loaded Ice Cream Sandwhich, the latest Android operating system. With the heavy lifting done, I installed common Google apps (GMail, the Google app Market, Web browser, etc).

Less than a week later, Sedagive? asked me to root our original Kindle Fire and install ICS on it.

Here’s what I did.

Before we begin

Doing this will void the warranty on your Amazon Kindle Fire.

While highly unlikely, it is possible to wreck your Amazon Kindle Fire doing this. I made a serious error while flashing a ROM on my second Amazon Kindle Fire, but I was able to recover it. Knowing how to recover from a mistake / disaster is important if you are going to attempt this process. If you feel uncomfortable with hacking a device, you may want to enlist the help of a friend or continue using the Kindle Fire in stock form.

These directions are accurate as of February 8, 2012. About 90% of my Web traffic comes from search, which means most of you reading this came from Google or a forum post. This means these directions may be out of date, or there may be better / easier ways to root your Kindle Fire. In the time since I rooted my second Fire two updated ROMs and an updated kernel have been released. The process should still be the same for now.

I did not discover how to do any of this work. However, when I flashed my two Kindle Fires there was no comprehensive order of operations. Do this, then do this, then do that. Everything was scattered. I’m writing this post for my pals with Kindles who may want to install ICS on their own. I do not imply doing any of the work or discovering how to root the Kindle Fire in any way.

Order of operations

  1. Make a folder somewhere on your computer that is easy to get to. Save everything into this folder, it’ll make things easier, especially when you are entering ADB commands.
  2. Install the Android Software Developer Kit framework (This is a great walkthrough).
    1. Download and install the x86 version of the Java SE Java Developer Kit (JDK). Make sure you get the x86 version, even if you have a 64-bit operating system.
    2. Download and install the Android Software Developer Kit.
  3. Install ADB drivers for your Kindle Fire (Another great walkthrough).
  4. Download Burrito Root 3
  5. Open a command window and type/paste these command:
    1. adb shell chmod 777 /data/local/tmp

    2. adb install BurritoRoot3.apk

    3. adb shell /data/local/tmp/BurritoRoot3.bin –install

    4. Check your Kindle Fire’s screen and then tap the “Flash” button
  6. Download Clockwork Recovery Mod
  7. Push Clockwork Recovery Mod via this command:

    adb push KINDLE-FIRE-UtterChaos-CWM5-touch-v01-BETA2_recovery.img /data/local/recovery.img

  8. Download an Ice Cream Sandwich ROM. I like the Jackpot Calvin “USBWOOT” ROM found in this thread. There are two newer ROMs that have come out since I rooted my Kindle Fire, but there may be some bugs.
  9. Download the Google Apps (GApps) version gapps-ics-20120201-signed.zip from the same thread.
  10. Copy over the Ice Cream Sandwich ROM you downloaded as well as the GApps zip you downloaded.
  11. Reboot your Kindle Fire.
  12. You should see a black screen with a yellow “warning” icon. There will be a black flame in the middle of the warning icon.
    1. Press your power button once. It should be bright green.
    2. The power button will dim. Press it again.
    3. The power button will turn orange. Press it again.

    I think you only have to press the power button during one of these phases, but the behavior hasn’t been consistent enough for me to figure it out. I just press the button every time the light changes status.

  13. Wait. Don’t panic, sometimes this takes awhile. Eventually a black screen with red letters will appear. This is the CWM-based Recovery mod we loaded earlier.
    1. Use the white down arrow key on the right side of the screen. Highlight “Wipe cache partition” and tap the white circle with six dots icon in the top right hand corner.
    2. Highlight “Yes – Wipe Cache” and tap the select icon (white circle with six dots).
    3. Highlight “advanced” and tap the select icon.
    4. Highlight “Wipe Dalvik Cache” and tap the select icon.
    5. Highlight “Yes – Wipe Dalvik Cache” and tap the select icon.
    6. Highlight “++++Go Back++++” and tap the select icon.
    7. Highlight “install zip from sdcard” and tap the select icon.
    8. Highlight “choose zip from sdcard” and tap the select icon.
    9. Highlight and select the ICS ROM you downloaded. In my case, as of this writing, it’s USBWOOT.zip.
    10. Highlight “Yes – Install [name of your ROM].zip” and tap the select icon.
    11. Highlight and select the GApps bundle you downloaded. In my case, as of this writing, it’s EOS_GApps_ics_4.0.3_v10.4.zip.
    12. Highlight and select “Yes – Install EOS_GApps_ics_4.0.3_v10.4.zip” and tap the select icon.
    13. Highlight “++++Go Back++++” and tap the select icon.
    14. Highlight and select “reboot options”
    15. Highlight and select “reboot system now.
    16. Don’t touch anything when the warning sign with the fire symbol appears. Your Kindle’s screen may go black for some time before displaying the Ice Cream Sandwich boot animation. Don’t panic.
    17. Your Kindle Fire should update a lot of programs. This may take awhile.
  14. Congratulations! You did it. You are now free to customize your Kindle Fire.
  15. Some important notes

    You may have to install Amazon App Store programs more than once. For some reason the App Store, Kindle Reader, and Amazon ecommerce app all shut down as soon as I launched them. If you uninstall these apps and re-install them they will work as normal.

    Do not use Clockwork Recovery Mod to flash your ROMs at this time. I did and it crippled my second Kindle Fire. I lost ADB connectivity and had to use a recovery tool to fix things. Always reboot and enter CWM via FireFireFire. Do not use the CWM app.

    Good luck!!

    If you have questions please let me know. Also, if you live in my area I’d be happy to help you root your Amazon Kindle Fire.

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2 Comments on "How I Rooted My Amazon Kindle Fire and Installed Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich"

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  1. endle says:

    how is everything running on your ICS kindle? Do you have audio and video working properly?
    Any luck getting the blue-tooth working?

  2. DrFaulken says:

    Hi there — sorry for the response, but I wanted to wait a few days. Everything’s going great with the exception of known issues, such as hardware acceleration and Bluetooth. I’m currently running the 02_19 build found on XDA Developers.