howto hack your kindle to run Zork! (and change screensavers)

I recently bought a shiny new amazon Kindle 3. Whilst originally wary of e-readers (“it’s a poor man’s ipad!” scoffed several friends) I have become a complete convert to the truly wonderful e-ink display. PDF support so far has been great, and I am mostly using it for reading technical books whilst at work, and on the toilet – I have all the oracle university books I need, as well as a load of IBM redbooks related to stuff I’m working on like Websphere and AIX.

Anyway, the device has a major flaw in my opinion, and that is some truly ugly “screensaver” images. They are of classic authors, which is fair enough if you like that sort of thing, but I don’t. I’m a geek. I’ve read a couple of orwell books and one dickens. I have no interest in Jane Austin or Virginia Woolf. none…

So when I couldnt find out how to customize the screensaver by fiddling with the device, i turned to Google (as you do) and this is where I learned that to be able to change these images, you had to jailbreak the device!

This is a really simple process, just a matter of copying a few files to the device, updating the firmware, and rebooting a couple of times. As a geek, I’m still frustrated by the way manufacturers try and lock you into only being able to do what THEY want with their kit… beit the iphone (or any apple idevice for that matter) the PS3, and now the kindle. argh! not everyone who wants to hack their devices wants to specifically load it full of illegal or questionable content. some of us just want to be able to do MORE with the device (I recently also bought an appletv2 in the hope that a well-built, tiny, economic media device will be able to do more than advertised – thanks to greenpo1son and limera1n, it is looking like that is possible. but more on that in another post once something useful happens)

I found out today that jailbreaking the device also lets you add some really cool stuff, like the ZORK text adventure! seriously… build this functionality into the devices, and you will open it up to a world of geeks like me who just buy things to be able to do cool stuff on it, you’ll sell more devices, and everyone ends up happy.

ok, so to jailbreak the device and be able to change the screensaver, check out the guide at

(takes 5 minutes, and as long as you are comfortable copying a file to the usb storage on the kindle, anyone can do it)

and to install zork and a plethora of other infocom games, follow this guide – – again, it is just a matter of copying a few files to the device, doing a “firmware update” and rebooting. once completed, you have a new “book” on your device, that then lets you load zork or any of the other games.

brilliant. more of this please. and hopefully soon, i’ll be making another post on how to fully unlock the potential of the new appletv so you can run movies off your NAS device without being tied to the atrocity that is itunes (as a linux desktop user, i dont even have the option of running itunes FFS!)