Like any Android-based tablet, the Amazon Kindle Fire can be rooted. This in turn offers several advantages to the user, such as an increase in functionality via previously restricted apps.
Unfortunately, the process of rooting isn’t as simple as it is with other Android devices. While apps such as Z4root can be used with phones and some tablets, the process involved in rooting a Kindle Fire at is a little more complicated.
Thanks to a useful tool – Kindle Fire Utility – the Kindle Fire can be easily rooted. A rooted Kindle Fire can play host to the Android Market (now known as Google Play), for instance, and even Google Apps. There are other benefits for users who take this step, not least in being able to install Android apps that require root access.
A Warning About Rooting the Kindle Fire
You should be aware before you skip down to the next section the consequences of rooting.
Put simply, rooting is the Android equivalent of jailbreaking, a term you may have heard in connection with iPhones. The process basically involves removing protection that exists on the root directory of an Android device, allowing apps with enhanced privilege requirements to operate correctly. As apps that require a rooted Android are available from Google Play, you can be certain that Google is aware of this practice, but they’ve done nothing to ban it.
More crucially, however, is the fact that Amazon regularly forces updates onto the Kindle Fire. The result of this is that a previously rooted device will become “unrooted”, necessitating further action.
The tool used in the process of rooting, Kindle Fire Utility, is regularly updated, so if a future update does negate a previously established root, downloading the latest version of the tool should allow you to re-root.
Remember that rooting will affect your warranty.
We’re starting this process with the Kindle Fire at version 6.3.1. After checking the version of the software on your Kindle Fire (Settings > More > Device) and updating if necessary, head to XDA Developers (free signup required) and download Kindle Fire Utility for Windows, compiled by Vashypooh.
After downloading, unzip the contents of the downloaded ZIP file. This will be used to manage the rooting process as well as download and install Google Play and some other useful tools.
Before proceeding, therefore, make sure you have:
- A fully charged Kindle Fire.
- USB cable.
- A Windows computer (or at least a virtual installation of the OS)
Next, prepare your Kindle Fire for additional software by opening Settings > More > Device and make sure Allow Installation of Applications is set to On. This will allow you to add applications from sources other than the Amazon App Store.
One last thing before starting: open Windows Explorer on your computer and open Organize > Folder and search options > View, where you will find the Show hidden files, folders, and drives radio button. Select this and click OK. This will ensure that you can view and open the files in the next section.
Installing The Kindle Fire Drivers
To proceed at this point, open the folder where the contents of the downloaded ZIP file were extracted. Connect your Kindle Fire via USB cable to your computer, and with the device in USB storage mode (the screen will read “You can now transfer files from your computer to Kindle”) double click install_drivers.bat.
This process can take a few minutes to complete, but when done you will see the screen above. To confirm the installation has been correct, return to the Explorer window and double-click run.bat. A successful driver installation will list the ADB Status as Online.
If Offline is listed (as above), close the Kindle Fire Utility window and try the following:
In Windows, right-click Computer, select Properties > Device Manager and look for an item with a yellow triangle and exclamation mark. It should be listed under Amazon or Android.
Right-click the item and select Update Driver Software, choosing the Browse my computer for driver software option then Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer and selecting USB Composite Device, which should then install Android Composite ADB Interface.
Rooting The Kindle Fire
You’re now ready to root your Kindle Fire. In Windows Explorer, return to the Kindle Fire Utility folder and double click run.bat. You should see that the ADB Status is listed as Online.
Select option 2, Install Permanent Root with Superuser, to begin the rooting process. Over the next few minutes, the Kindle Fire Utility will install the necessary tools and reconfigure your Kindle Fire tablet as required.
You will need to be patient while this process continues. Don’t be concerned by the Windows alert sound of USB devices being connected and disconnected, as this is part of the process.
Most importantly, don’t disconnect your Kindle Fire until you see the message above! Early disconnection could mean bricking your tablet, and you wouldn’t want that to happen…
Adding Google Play
Once your device is rooted, you can take advantage of certain apps that require enhanced privileges, as well as access Google Play on your Kindle Fire.
To add this, start run.bat and select option 6, Extras (Requires |Root) then option 1 of the following screen, Install Google Apps / Go Launcher EX. Again, the process will take a while to complete, but once it is finished you can unlock your Kindle Fire and select the Google+, entering your Google account details.
Next, find the Go Launcher icon and tap this – your tablet will then look more like a standard Android device, but you will have access to Google Play, via the Market icon!
Applying these changes to your Kindle Fire will enable you to enjoy the tablet as much as any other Android tablet user can. Apps and games can be installed from Google Play, along with books and music, and you’ll also get the benefit of other Google services such as Google Drive.
Remember that updating your Kindle Fire will re-apply the root file protection, resulting in all of the hard work done so far being undone. As such, you should not run an official update from Amazon unless you absolutely need it and can do without the advantage of a rooted device.