Friday November 24 , 2017

Hacking the nook - does it Matter?

Updated 12/22/09 based on latest firmware changes and rooting news

What's this "rooting" the nook all about? Rooting is the process by which you can take control of a machine and get complete system rights as the "root" or super user. "root" is the name of the super user in the Unix/Linux-based operating systems (like the Google Android that runs the nook).


Nookdevs did a good job of documenting the process. You can check out the steps involved, I wouldn't advise trying this! Unless you are a computer geek you won't be able to do anything useful anyway.

Read More on "Rooting the nook" at

Before you dismiss the crude mode of taking control of your nook consider that this is how the iPhone unlocking/jailbraking started! Knowing how the device works, and how to override the system code that B&N put on it, is the first step to having a nook that can run other applications on it (think Google Reader or a Web Browser).

Realistically apps may need to be modified to use e-Ink and color screens differently. Current applications like the browser and Pandora draw across the entire two screens, but only the bottom one is a touch screen. Controlling many of these apps requires connecting to your PC and using remote control software so you can use your mouse as an input device.

Should I root my nook?

Most end users will screw up their nook or complete the rooting and not be able to do anything new or interesting. The best bet is to wait for the nookdev folks to get some good apps working well with the color screen for navigation. Even then you may want to wait for a new way to root the nook. The current method requires taking apart the nook. I'm hopeful at some point there will be a software solution to rooting the nook like the iPhone jailbreaking. Once there are some apps and a software rooting process end-users may want to consider trying it. For now I'd recommend you spend your time enjoying a new eBook on your nook!

The Opportunity

So the question to B&N is, "are you going to make this a stable platform for it's primary purpose?" I think they answer is "YES" they will (it's in their financial interest). The next question is, "are you ready to support the nook as a platform for more than reading eBooks?" Based on recent interviews B&N has given I think the answer to this is also "YES".  So why does rooting the nook matter? The reason it matters is it will keep the pressure on B&N to open up the platform. We now know a lot more about the platform and the hardware it uses. In addition, this will also gives developers a head start on developing programs in Java using the Android software development kit (SDK) with the nook (the part I'm interested in personally).

Keep an eye out here, we'll let you know when the nook hacks are ready for you as the end-user.  Hopefully B&N will beat the hacking community to it by providing a stable eReader platform that's open to applications (not holding breath).

New to the nook?

Have a new Barnes & Noble nook or nookColor e-reader? Getting started with nookStudy? nook for iPhone? We've got a lot of information to help - e-books, e-reader reviews & more. -> Read the New2Nook Tutorial <-
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