Hacking Your Kindle

The other day when I was not hacking my kindle, I discovered that it ran on Linux. Or at least, when I went to “status” and typed in 411, the OS details came up and that is what it indicated.

So, should I really be impressed buy this?

I love this punchline:

Comments

  1. #1 Edward Coughlin
    September 4, 2009

    I do love the end of the Gizmodo article “we’re not really sure what the practical applications of a Linux Kindle would be, but it’s an impressive proof of concept for sure.”

    I’ve tried installing Linux on a PS3 and several flavors on computers and really, I can’t find too much of a use for it on any of those either. I do find it to be more useful then Vista (for the most part) but then I run into problems with installing new programs that have incompatibilities with this or that one of the million Linux flavors (or those programs not existing for Linux in the first place) and give up the ghost.

    I mean I installed the most recent version of OSX for 24.99 (Snow Leopard sale price) and I am more then willing to pay 25 bucks for the vast improvement on Linux that OSX represents. I see not paying 200 bucks for Windows 7, but I can afford the 24.99 to not have to deal with the far less user friendly version of UNIX LINUX represents. Ditto for being much happier with OSX installed on my iphone vs Linux. There is definitely something to be said for a seamless user experience, even if it means paying “the man” 25 bucks here and there.

  2. #2 Eric
    September 4, 2009

    If you scramble up the letters “s-t-e-v-e-j-o-b-s-” you get “Edward Coughlin”

    : )

  3. #3 MadScientist
    September 4, 2009

    @Edward Coughlin: You’re not making any sense. Linux is not more user unfriendly than any UNIX in general. If anything it’s super-friendly because you can tweak it to be just the way you want it. If you’re talking about other apps and the GUI, they have little to do with Linux. Besides, there are thousands of happy Ubuntu/Kubuntu users out there (although I don’t use either). I don’t know if you got an upgrade or what, but OSX was about $120 when I asked. I don’t think that’s a bad price for an OS; I just wish it would run on consumer hardware rather than those boutique macs. MS is asking way too much for VisDud and W7 though (doesn’t W7 sound like the name of a virus?). I’m hoping the spreadsheet in OpenOffice improves though; I cry when I can’t plot a variable on a second Y axis and there are a few things that drive me crazy. Scripting GnuPlot is not really my idea of how to make a quick and dirty graph – but I might have to get used to it. After all, spreadsheets really are useless to me in the long term anyway.

  4. #4 travc
    September 4, 2009

    The fact that a device can be hacked to run a more-or-less generic linux install means that it has (in theory at least) access to a huge base of programs and developers.

    Devices such as a Kindle or iPhone have their own user interfaces for very good reasons. The interface is designed around their intended purpose. (Arguably very well designed.)

    Actually using a more generic (or customizable) install can be useful if you are making them do something they weren’t originally designed to do. For devices based on linux/bsd, modifying or tweaking the system already on them is normally more desirable than installing a different OS… but the fact that you can install a different OS is quite instructive (it means the drivers are mostly all there.)

    The hardware of many of these devices is really cool and can be used for all sorts of nifty stuff… 99% uninteresting to most users.

  5. #5 Dan J
    September 5, 2009

    Edward, sometimes I wonder whether or not your really being honest with us.

    You know what runs best on a PS3? PS3 games. The PS3 hardware doesn’t have enough RAM to run a different OS smoothly. Getting it to run there at all is interesting, to say the least.

    I do find it to be more useful then Vista (for the most part) but then I run into problems with installing new programs that have incompatibilities with this or that one of the million Linux flavors (or those programs not existing for Linux in the first place) and give up the ghost.

    You have trouble installing new programs because of “incompatibilities”. What would those incompatibilities be? That they aren’t “Linux” programs? That they’re KDE-based programs that ou’re installing in a Gnome environment without the proper libraries installed first? Your generalities lead me to believe that you have almost no experience with Linux at all. Your experiences, if true, fall very far outside the norm of people using Linux today.

    Yes, be happy paying “the man” $25 here or there (remember, that’s an upgrade path licensing price) to run his OS on the proprietary hardware for which you paid at least twice the price of comparable non-proprietary hardware.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    September 5, 2009

    That they’re KDE-based programs that ou’re installing in a Gnome environment without the proper libraries installed first? … which is almost impossible to do if you use a standard apt- or yast-like system for installing software. I’ve never had any trouble running KDE apps in my gnome. Indeed, there are some aps where the KDE version is superior to the Gnome version (and by version I don’t mean version), but I like the gnome desktop better, so…

  7. #7 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 5, 2009

    I wish to echo Dan’s sentiments, here. I would have gone with Mac long ago had it not been wedded to specific hardware. For all of Microsoft’s faults, at least Gates had the revolutionary notion that software and hardware can be developed independently.

    What I would like to know about Kindle is whether or not I could transfer my PDF docs to one, or if it is limited to a specific Amazon doc format. I have a lot of papers to read, but would rather sit in an easy chair to read them than sit at my computer desk.

  8. #8 Dan J
    September 5, 2009

    What I would like to know about Kindle is whether or not I could transfer my PDF docs to one, or if it is limited to a specific Amazon doc format. I have a lot of papers to read, but would rather sit in an easy chair to read them than sit at my computer desk.

    I’ve been thinking about similar issues as I look at available (and soon-to-be-available) readers. For Kindle, I think you have to email the PDF files to your Kindle account, then they show up on your reader. For Sony’s, I think you just connect to your PC and move the files. I understand Kindle’s PDF rendering is superior, but nothing’s keeping that from changing. I’m leaning toward Sony, but there are some new players entering the market soon. I’m working on a draft post about the readers, but nowhere near ready to publish.

  9. #9 Caroline
    September 6, 2009

    Brief interlude on PDF rendering —

    Yes, you can email files to Amazon for conversion, and they will either 1) email it back to you or 2) send it wirelessly to your Kindle for a small fee.

    However, the program Calibre does a very clean job of converting PDFs to .mobi files. The end user can do the conversion and completely avoid using Amazon’s email service. I’ve been very pleased with the results on my Kindle.

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