How to Root your Nook Color and transform it into a cheap Android tablet

The latest entry in my series of articles about rooting your Nook Color will describe how, after you root it, you can configure it to behave exactly like an Android tablet, although much cheaper. To be honest, I just returned from Costco where I found Samsung Galaxy Tab and I was able to to a comparison. While Nook Color is heavier, is thinner and looks way better in my opinion. While it doesn’t have 3G capabilities and GPS, I have an iPhone for those purposes and Nook Color tethering via the iPhone works very well.

To begin, let’s look at the prerequisites: You’ll need to have your Nook Color rooted, side-loading of the apps enabled, Android Market installed and, if you need it, tethering installed. I wrote separate articles for each process:

Update: Our tutorial for rooting Nook Touch is now live as well.

1. If your Nook Color is still at version 1.0.0, follow How to root Nook Color

2. If your Nook Color is at the version 1.0.1, follow How to root Nook Color 1.0.1 using Auto-Nooter

3. Auto-Nooter method will install Android Market by default, it is a good idea to update your Nook and follow the rooting method that uses Auto-Nooter. if you performed the root following Method 1, you’ll need to separately install Android Market.

4. If you need tethering, be warned that all the tethering clients that I have seen (MyWi is one of them) will create an AdHoc network instead of infrastructure. Nook Color’s wpa_supplicant will not see / connect to AdHoc networks so we”ll have to change it. Follow this article for detailed steps.

5. Android Honeycomb 3.0 works now on Nook Color, although not completely. If you want to give it a try, follow our detailed instructions here.

6: Update. Nook Color 1.1 can be now rooted using the new Auto-Nooter 3.0.0

7: If something went wrong, we have a tutorial to reset your nook Color to factory state

8: New: CyanogenMod 7.0 final is now available and brings Android Gingerbread 2.3.3, Flash and video hardware acceleration to your Nook Color. I just upgraded mine and created a detailed tutorial. Give it a try and report your experience.

Important!

If you will install Barnes and Noble over the air updates, it will break your root. To disable over the air updates, from the ADB command line, send the following commands:

adb shell mount -o rw,remount -t ext2 /dev/block/mmcblk0p5 /system
adb shell mv /etc/security/otacerts.zip /etc/security/otacerts.zip_DISABLED_OTA_UPDATES

…or just install Root Explorer, navigate to the otacerts.zip file and rename it manually.

OK, now comes the fun part…If you followed the previous steps successfully, you’ll have a rooted Nook with Android Market access. I have readers asking me how to configure the Nook Color to look like in my screenshots. In order to achieve this, you’ll need to install a 3rd party launcher as the stock one is not designed to allow too much freedom. There are two launchers (Home apps) I used: LauncherPro and Zeam. If you want to switch between them, there is a very useful little utility called Home Switcher that will allow you to set the default launcher if multiple ones are installed. I currently use Zeam but both launchers are recommended and you can switch them easily. Both launchers allow finger dragging of the application shortcuts from the Extra screen onto the home screens.

Launcher Pro comes with a nice collection of widgets including a social widget that you can pin on your home screen and have up to date access to your contacts tweets / Facebook activity. Launcher Pro also allows backgrounds and up to three launcher screens that you can switch with a finger swipe. The only problem is that it comes with a default toolbar that you cannot configure. It also comes with up to 3 home screens and settings to setting the number of rows / columns on each home screen, resizes the widgets to fit the screen, etc. One drawback, Launcher Pro does not support landscape orientation.

Zeam doesn’t have as many features as Launcher Pro but is faster and lighter. It comes with up to  7 home screens, settings for number of rows / columns on each home screen, etc. More important for me, Zeam comes with the ability to configure the toolbar allowing you to drag the most used apps. One of the advantages Zeam has over the competition is the support for landscape orientation.

Recommended apps:

What apps you are using varies based on your individual interests. These are the applications I installed and I can confirm they work properly on Nook Color with full screen support and no issues: (all of them are available in Android Market, most of them are free)

Launchers:

Launcher Pro, Zeam

eBook Readers:

Kindle (full screen, works perfectly)

Internet Browsing:

Dolphin Browser, Firefox, Skyfire

Shopping:

eBay

Multimedia:

nsWPlayer, TuneIn Radio, Pandora, YouTube, Last.fm, XiiaLive, Dish Network Remote, TV.com, NPR news, Flixster

Media / Info:

Quickpedia, Google News and Weather, Time Mobile, Engadget, NPR news, NYTimes, USA Today, Wikidroid, FeedR

Weather:

WeatherBug, Google News and Weather

Real Estate:

Realtor.com, Zillow

Social / IM / E-mail Clients:

TweetCaster, Facebook, Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Mail, K-9 Mail

Utilities:

Home Switcher, SoftKeys (for the applications making use of the hardware buttons that are non existent on Nook Color), Setting Profiles Full to automatically turn on/off WiFi when your screen is on/off. For more info see our article about enabling infrastructure tethering.

Recommended games:

What would be our life without games? I included a list of games that work without issues on Nook Color and most take advantage from its gorgeous high resolution screen.

Farm Frenzy, Doodle Jump, Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, Abduction!, Armored Defense, Asphalt 5, Bebbled, Bonsai Blast, Boomex!, Bubble Blast 2, Buka, City mayor, droidkoban, Dungeon Hunter, Flick Defense, Frozen Bubble, grave Defense, Guns’n'Glory, Jewels, Kebab Deluxe, Klondike, LineUp, Mahjong, Mahjong Solitaire, Mechanics Touch, Pinball Ride, Shrimpocalypse, Snow Rally (not full screen), Solitaire, Coast Defense, UniWar, Toyshop Adventures.

Widgets:

I use Beautiful Widgets -> Beautiful Home for clock / weather and Google Search widgets (installed by default). I also use beautiful Widgets -> Beautiful WiFi to quickly turn ON/OFF the WiFi adapter. To add a widget, execute a long press on the desktop, select Add item->Widget.

As usual, let me know if you have any questions and if you know other great games that are fully compatible with Nook Color.

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  • Belstephen

    Your set up looks great! Trying to get mine pretty similar and trying to find out where to find the google search bar you have at the bottom of your screen and what app you have displayed for time and weather at the top. Didn’t look like Weatherbug I’ve seen in the past, currently have Google news and weather on, but doesn’t show the time. Would really appreciate your help!

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com Sorin

    Belstephen,

    I updated Recommended Apps with a Widget section!

  • al

    Can I still use the barnes noble bookstore if I root it?

  • http://. Daryle

    Question: The biggest caveat I’ve seen about rooting a Nook is that some battery program that prevents overcharging is lost when the Nook is rooted. I’m a lazy shmuck who just plugs his devices in for recharging and then unplugging them when I next need them. The articles I’ve read says that without the battery control program, I could overcharge and damage the Nook through explosion and/or overheating. Is this still true? I like the Nook as is but would love to do more with it once this is corrected.

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com Sorin

    al,

    Yes, rooting doesn’t affect B&N software, bookstore included.

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com Sorin

    Daryle,

    Where did you see that? I think rooting just open Nook Color to side loading of applications, does nothing to break the overcharging prevention routines. Installing Froyo (Android 2.2) will do that since the routines are not there yet.

  • al

    Ok, right now I have 1.0.0. Should I update to 1.0.1 and use the Auto-nooter, or just root it as is? Which would be better?

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com Sorin

    update to 1.0.1 and using Auto-nooter is probably the best solution.

  • mark

    what’s my option to go back to original nook os/config? there must be a way to image it. I would feel a lot better about rooting it if I knew I had a safety net.

    thanks!

  • Sorin

    mark,

    Here is the info from one of my other posts (thanks Kevin)
    1. power off your Nook Color
    2. After is powered off, Hold N button, Vol+ button and Power Button together until Nook powers back on
    3. Factory Reset dialog should show up
    4. Press Power to exit
    5. Press N (Home) button
    6. Confirm, Press Power to exit, N (Home) to continue again
    7. Press N(Home) again. If you followed the steps properly you’ll see a “Clearing Data” dialog. After it will perform everything properly the unit will reboot itself and you should have a shiny new Nook

  • Shawn

    I’ve got Astro File Manager & File Manager 2.1.0

    I’m trying to altering the etc/system/otacerts/zip file name so that my system won’t take the 1.1.0 Firmware update.

    Using either program, when I try to make the change I get and “Insufficient Permissions” Error.

    Any ideas what to do?
    Thanks,

  • juanita

    Help, very nervous about this. Has it worked well for others? Also, is there a root for newest version 1.1.0? What does rooting mean for new version updates? No longer needed?

    Totally new at this, so sorry for basic questions. Really luv my nc, but am growing more frustrated by its limitations and don’t want to spend $600 for something else.

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com Sorin

    juanita,

    No root for 1.1.0 yet, you’ll have to wait until one is developed. The new update will just have some fixes, if you want to install Android Market and other applications, you’ll still need to root it.

    Shawn,

    It seems that changing otacerts file won’t work for everybody. There is a new method that tries to fool Nook Color to believe it has already been updated.
    See it here:
    http://reviewhorizon.com/2011/01/nook-color-gets-firmware-version-1-1-breaks-the-root/

  • Kris

    Cant seem to download any apps from the market after the root. It went perfect, or so I thought. When I try and download an app, it just seems stuck in ‘starting download’….any advice?

  • Chris

    Quick question…I followed all the advice, and everything worked brilliantly. I loaded up Zeam, and i love it…except from the home screen now I cannot see the notification bar (emails, downloads, etc) on the bottom, just the Zeam launcher. Any idea how to get the notifications back on the home screen? (Works fine inside apps)

  • Ron

    I have a rooted NC and the battery went dead while I was using it. I tried to charge it and get an error critical battery error. It wont charge. Can I take the back off the NC and remove the battery to reset it or something. B&N said I would have to call them to trouble shoot but it has been rooted…. Help please any one??

  • Ken

    I can’t believe I’ve waited since Christmas (when I got the NC), agonizing about whether or not to root…did it yesterday, and what a kick! Take control of your Android device; if B&N gave you a bit more control in the first place none of this would be necessary, but…oh well. Thanks to all the dev folks who’ve done all the work: my transition went seamlessly (after reading, and executing, carefully).
    Using Zeam as a launcher/default desktop (tried ADW, wasn’t thrilled), can switch to the stock bn desktop and still use all the original apps, the reader, shop, etc. Have gone overboard and installed waaay too many apps/games, will have to pare that down as I see what I actually use!
    In response to previous question about not starting download, a few times I’ve had to go into Settings/Wireless, which re-starts the connection…that has done it for me.
    Thanks, all!

  • michelle wamsley

    rooted my nook color and a month after rooting my screen is unresponsive. It will not allow me to do anything i’ve reset my nook to cm7 before i installed anything but I still can not get any response help please