Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Enable USB Networking on Kindle DX

The first thing is why in hell you may want to do this? Or even what the hell is this usb networking thing?

The thing is that those who are outside of coverage of Whispernet wireless network cannot get some of the Kindle features to work. But even if you enable usb networking you are not getting back 100% of the functionality. Let me tell you some of the things I've learned:

Apparently Amazon will send you a client digital certificate to your Kindle through Whispernet (and only that way), so future orders from you Kindle can be properly authenticated as yours (so you cannot refuse payment I guess, among other things). That means that even if you get your Kindle to access the Internet (ie enabling USB networking) you won't be able to register it to your account (though no error message is presented to the user).

So what USB networking can serve for? Well, enabling USB networking allows you to connect to the Kindle as a network device and to access its Linux system for doing changes, checking what's inside and, if you are not careful enough, to brick it.

If you still are curious about playing this game let me tell you what you need to do:

  1. Get a Kindle.
  2. Get the binary from this thread.
  3. Copy the proper .bin to the root folder of your Kindle.
  4. Do a manual upgrade of Kindle firmware (you do this by pressing Menu/Preferences and the Menu again/Upgrade Firmware).
  5. On the seach box of you Kindle type ;debugOn and `usbNetworking
  6. Connect USB to your computer and you should get a new network interface (defaults to 192.168.2.1 and Kindle would be 192.168.2.2 device).
  7. If you want Kindle to have Internet access you'll need to enable Internet connection sharing on your computing and to populate /etc/resolv.conf on Kindle with a valid DNS nameserver.
  8. You can restore normal USB behavior on Kindle but restarting it (just make sure you delete /mnt/us/usbnet/AUTO file or you'll be running circles).
But at the end of the whole process the most useful thing I could achieve was to set the date on my Kindle DX. Browsing Amazon's Kindle bookshop is possible too but ... as you do not have a digital certificate you cannot download book samples nor you can get access to wikipedia. However, as you are connecting through your computer ... well, you can use your computer to do all these things faster and better than with you USB connected Kindle.

And, regarding my current experience with Kindle DX I would say that size matters and DX is lacking a couple of inches more. If I just could use one of the techniques I get on my mailbox to get a few more inches ...

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