Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New toy! Rooting a Nook Touch

So last week I made my first impulse buy in a while; I bought a brand new Nook Simple Touch. Why? I spend way too much time looking at LCD screens, I would love to change some of that to e-Ink (going outside just isn't part of the equation). Also, it's running Android - what's not to love?

The main goals I have are as follows:
  • Read books (easy!)
  • Read Instapaper articles (harder)
  • Get on Google Reader (even harder)
One solution is to sync all of these things to Calibre and load them manually. But what's the point of having a wireless e-reader if you're plugging it in all the time? And manual operation? Screw that. The only solution was to root it and get some side-loaded apps working to solve my problems.

The root process is well spelled out here (thanks JesusFreke!). I've already added my clarifying contributions to the wiki; where I can help is what you do with your Nook after rooting. Here's what I did...

Yes, that's right. Angry Birds, first priority. It's obligatory.

Now that that's out of the way, some real stuff. All apps are loaded by making a adb connection (this should have been the last step of rooting). So, you run your adb connect, and can immediately load apps with adb install {app}. It's spelled out for the Nook Color here; same process.

Installing is easy- getting access to the apps once they're on the device is slightly more complicated. For this, you need two apps. One is ADWLauncher, an Android homescreen replacement. The B&N one the Nook ships with just won't cut it. Unfortunately, the only time you can access your home screen is on Nook startup; if you leave it, you can't get back. For that, you need SoftKeys. This allows you to reach your desired home screen whenever you like. You should set it up as explained for the Nook Color here. I've also heard people having success with Button Savior, but I haven't tried it (yet!).

Now you have a launcher/home screen, and a home key so you can always get back. Now you can load whichever apps you want. Here's what I've found that works and doesn't work so far...

  • Nook Color Tools
    • very helpful- provides access to system settings. Necessary to uninstall apps.
  • Dolphin browser
    • good browser that seems to work with only minor hiccups
  • Dropbox
    • file sharing! yippee!
Not working (yet):

Here's someone else's list: much more comprehensive.

Note that two of my original goals are on the not working list. Some people seem have had success with both; I'll provide an update when I figure out how to get them working.

One of the biggest issues I've had is simply finding the apks to load. Has anyone had success with Android Market? Or found a reliable way to download apps? My next plan is to try downloading them to my Nexus S and grabbing them from there.

By the way, there have been some great resources online recording the progress of rooting the Nook. This thread on xda-devs has been very prolific. Mike Cane has had nearly daily updates on his blog.

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