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Kindle Fire 7 Android Tweaks

The Kindle Fire 7 is a very reasonably priced device. A++ would recommend LQQk.

It's launcher however is kind of balls and could use the google tools if you're living in that ecosystem. Here lies some notes on how to get it back to be more of a stock-ish android feel without installing a custom ROM.

It seems to be the norm lately to have instructions-as-youtube-videos. This is just the worst, so here lies some text and good old fashioned hyperlinks. To get everything working nicely you will need to do some things that requires many reboots. You will eventually end up with a device with a nice stock launcher, rooted, and maybe even ad blocking if you want.

Rooting

  • Enable developer options on your kindle by going to Settings-> Device Options. Click on 'Serial Number' a bunch of times until it shows a new 'Developer Options' item. Choose that, then toggle 'Enable ADB'.
  • Enable 3rd party app install via Settings-> Security-> 'Apps from Unknown Sources'.
  • Get a tool called Root Junky Super Tool. I downloaded "AmazonFire5thGenSuperTool.zip" which was about 153mb at the time of writing (May 2016). It has wrapper scripts to attempt to make it easy for Linux and allegedly OSX and Windows (didn't test).
  • Unzip it and cd to the directory.
  • My laptop is Linux, so I ran '3-Amazon-Fire-5th-gen-linux-mac.sh' as your standard user (if it needs root it will sudo and ask for password). This tool seems to come with all binaries you require (adb and whatnot). It would be really nice if each item it did were separately documented to ensure it wasn't doing dumb stuff to your machine. Details of that are in the script I suppose. When you run it, you will get something like this:
$ ./3-Amazon-Fire-5th-gen-linux-mac.sh 
    ___  ____  ____  _____    ____  ___  ____ ____  __  ________  _  _    
   / _ \/ _  \/ _  \/_  _/_  / / / / / \/ / //_/\ \/ / / __/ _  \/ \/ \   
  / , _/ |_| / |_| / / / / // / /_/ /    /  <    \  /_/ /_/ |_| / ,  , \  
 /_/|_|\____/\____/ /_/  \___/\____/_/\_/_/\_/   /_/_/___/\____/_/ \/ \_\ 
                                                                          
[*] RootJunkys
[*] Amazon Fire 5th gen tablet supertool Fire OS 5.1.2
[*] Linux / OSX Version
[*] Remember to chmod +x this script
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
1) Google Play Store 1	       5) Nova Launcher Install 5
2) Root Device 2	       6) FlashFire App Install 6
3) Block OTA Updates 3	       7) Xposed Framework Install 7
4) Remove Lock Screen Ads 4    8) Quit 8
Please enter your choice number: 
  • I chose options options in this order: 1, 2, 3, 5. Note that each option has its own submenus that tell you what to do, and they're mostly right. Each option may require you to reboot, and may require a few reboots. The first time I chose 2) for example, it didn't seem to work but it rebooted. The next time I tried 2) it worked fine.
  • I didn't choose 4 because I purchased a kindle without lock screen ads, I didn't choose 6 or 7 because I don't know or care what they are.
  • Notes about rooting- this installs some strange sounding programs - 'KingRoot' and 'Purify'. These seem sketch, so do this at your own risk. When step 2) is complete it will have instaled SuperSU and suggest you uninstall KingRoot and Purify. I did this and it seems like the right decision

Change Launcher

I like Nova Launcher. You can install it now that you have Google Play enabled. However, as of FireOS 5.1.1 you can no longer change the deafult launcher from the GUI. You have to do it via a root shell.

adb shell
 
$ su -

# pm enable com.teslacoilsw.launcher
Package com.teslacoilsw.launcher new state: enabled

# pm disable com.amazon.firelauncher
Package com.amazon.firelauncher new state: disabled

So we've enabled Nova (com.teslacoilsw.launcher) and disabled Amazon's (com.amazon.firelauncher). This probably works with other launchers too, I only tried with this one.

Ad Blocking and 3rd Party Apps

I had not used ad blocking for a few years as I had not had a need to root my other android device (Nexus 5). I was somewhat surprised to see that there doesn't appear to be an Adblock APK anymore, the website just wants you to download their browser. That would only block ads in that browser which is a Firefox fork and hence slow as shit.

The method I chose works well. It is to install yet-another-app store called F-Droid. Fortunately this contains only Free/Open Source android apps.

  • Install it (requires "Apps from Unknown Sources enabled")
  • When you open it it will take a few minutes to sync its repository info. This isn't obvious at first ast it's in the Notification area and Amazon more or less hides it from you.
  • When synced, install 'AdAway'. It requires root and you should receive a pop-up from SuperSU asking you to permit it. Other useful apps in here appear to be:
    • Dashclock (Clock Widget)
    • AntennaPod (Podcast app)
    • Slide (modern ad free reddit app)
    • Amaze (modern file manager)


Things that are still weird

  • Adding widgets to home screen via Nova launcher doesn't really work. You can choose the widget, drag it to the home screen, but instead of placing it there it instead takes you to the built in amazon Settings screen.
    • FIXED: Install an app called '/system/app mover' from the F-Droid app store. Launch it, allow it root access, then choose Nova Launcher. When I did this the device rebooted and then I was able to add widgets.
  • Home screen is always locked. Kindle does this naively, looking for a workaround.
  • Apps that suggest you go to download an app takes you to the Amazon marketplace instead of Google's. This may mean that the app is not there since there are fewer in Amazon's than Google's.
    • FIX: disable the amazon app store (com.amazon.venezia) via 'adb shell'.
adb shell 
$ su -
# pm disable com.amazon.venezia
Package com.amazon.venezia new state: disabled