Should you root your Kindle Fire Tablet?

I received an Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet for my birthday last month, and it’s been a great device for most of my needs. Although I don’t read many digital books (in fact, none!), I do like to watch videos and movies, read news sites, checkup on weather, listen to music, etc. So far, the Kindle Fire can do all those things and more.

The one bad thing about the Kindle Fire, is that Amazon has tied it down so you can’t access or install apps from the Android Market. The only place you can download apps is from Amazon’s App Store which at this moment, has some what limited number of apps compared to the general Android Market. There is a way to circumvent this by using a technique called “side loading”, where you install 3rd party applications from an apk file (standard Android installation file), but getting the apk file for a specific Android application is a manual process (Do a Google search on “android side load app”).

Using the side loading method, I was able to install other apps not available on the Amazon App Store like Dropbox, Engadget, Evernote, jVault, Netflix, Mocha vNC Lite, Wunderlist, Twitter, etc.

Now, I’ve been reading in different forum postings and tech blogs that it is possible to “root” your Kindle Fire which would allow you access to more capabilities (like installing Android Market). As such, this prompted me to look into rooting my Kindle Fire.

After reading directions and tips from several different web sites and forum postings, I was able to root my Kindle Fire. Rooting basically gives me permissions as a user to make system changes. It can be a bit dangerous, and definitely voids your warranty. As I jumped through all the hoops to getting Android Market installed, I could never get it to work. I would always get a “Forced Closed” error when I tried to access the Market. I suspect that when Amazon upgraded the Fire’s OS from 2.6 to 2.6.1, the apk files that I downloaded and installed on my Fire for Android Market access just didn’t work any more. So, instead of fussing with my Kindle Fire further, I decided it just wasn’t worth it.

Therefore, I began the process of uninstalling all the “extra” apps I installed pertaining to Android Market and then un-rooted my Kindle Fire. So, now I’m back to my original system (but, still with my side loaded apps intact).

I’ve concluded that it wasn’t worth it to root my Kindle Fire for my needs. I’m sure others really like the freedom of having a rooted Fire tablet and being able to install many more apps, but I just found it to be a pain in the neck. Also, I’d be worried that when future OS updates or app updates came out, my tinkering with the OS and privileges would cause problems down the road.

If you’re interested in rooting the Kindle Fire, just do a Google search for several different sites with directions. But be warned: It’s not for the faint hearted..

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2 Responses to Should you root your Kindle Fire Tablet?

  1. Ken says:

    Thanks for your take on rooting the Kindle Fire. I’m holding a new one in my hands, and since I’ve always used jailbroken iPhones, I wondered if it was worth the effort on the Kindle. Sounds like it’s not that great of a benefit. I have to say that after using this Kindle, it makes me appreciate Apple’s iOS even more.

    • zunetips says:

      Ken,

      The problem with rooting and jailbreaking is when the manufacturer pushes out an update everything gets screwed up on your device. On the iPhone you can delay these updates, but on the Kindle Fire they seemed to be pushed out and installed whenever you have an active WiFi connection. I was trying to get the Android Market running on the Fire so I could download more apps (since by default you can only download apps from the Amazon App Store), but in the end I just couldn’t get it to work. I also decided I didn’t want to mess up my Fire too much and possibly brick it.

      In the end, I decided to just “side load” apps which I couldn’t find and download from the Amazon App Store. When you do this, you’ll find several apps won’t install at all since there are several Google libraries not installed on the Fire. Hope you enjoy your new Kindle Fire!

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