How to root Nook Touch and side load apps (Kindle, ADW launcher, Amazon App Store), review

Following our successful tutorials about rooting the Nook Color, we decided to write a new tutorial involving the new Barnes and Noble eReader, Nook Touch. Much like its older brother, the original nook, Nook Touch is build on top of an Android (2.1) based platform, and, as a result, fully capable of being rooted / hacked. The new Nook Touch has a faster processor, memory and overall a better hardware than its older brother and also a much longer battery life. Let’s go ahead and see what extra functionality / advantages you can extract by rooting it.

Disclaimer: Most of the information listed here was adapted from NookDevs (thank you!). I added additional info where I felt the user might go into problems, or for clarification purposes. After the rooting process is complete, you’ll have an eReader capable to run side loaded apk files including Amazon Kindle and ADW launcher, which opens a world of interesting possibilities. Kobo, Aldiko and Nook app are also possible which transforms Nook Touch into a Jack of all trades device on the cheap, at least as a dedicated eReader. Even Angry Birds app will work on it, although you can imagine, it is more a rooting feat than a really useful endeavor and, surprise surprise, but a half functional Web Browser app was also unearthed as available but not advertised by Barnes and Noble.

Note: To use Nook Touch’s Web Browser, you don’t need to root it. Just type an URL in the Search screen and the hidden web browser will start automatically.

Note 2: Nook Touch also has Bluetooth which could open up various interesting applications in the future, including Bluetooth file transfer and keyboard support. Even stereo sound to your Blueetooth enabled headset.

We’ll base our tutorial on Windows platform, although the process is 99% similar on MAC / Linux platforms.

Before proceeding, it might be a good idea to get familiar with restoring methods and to create a firmware backup for later use. You can use this tutorial to learn how to do it…

Step 0: Prerequisites:

  • Windows, MAC or Linux machine
  • Internet connection (you ARE reading this, right?)
  • WiFi connection available
  • 128MB or larger microSD card (faster the better)
  • a Nook Touch (duh!)
  • The following two files: noogie.img.gz and uRamdisk_rooted.
  • Win32DiskImager - needed to write the noogie.img on your SD card

Step 1: Prepare your files. Unzip noogie.img somewhere. You’ll need to navigate there so it is a good idea to create a short folder under the root of the main drive, for example c:\NookTouch on a Windows machine. The folder should contain both noogie.img and uRamdisk_rooted (no exension). For simplicity you can also unzip Win32Imager files in the same folder. the c:\NookTouch folder might look like this:

Step 2: Write noogie.img on your SD card. Since this operation will write an image, not a file on your SD card, it will use the whole space, so everything else on the SD card will be deleted. Be sure to save any important stuff first.

Launch Win32imager by clicking on Win32DiskImager.exe. Click the Browse button (red circle) and select noogie.img. If you put everything in the same folder, you should see it right away. Select the drive letter corresponding to your SD card and select write. Close the Win32Disk Imager by clicking Exit when done.

Note: Linux / MAC users can use the embedded DD command and do not need Win 32 Disk Imager.

Step 3: Verification. Check that your SD card was successfully imaged by verifying the presence of the following files: boot.scr, boot.script, booting.pgm, cfg.bin, flash_spl.bin, MLO, regenerate_bootscript.sh, u-boot.bin, uImage, uRamdisk, wvf.bin.

Step 4: Boot Nook Touch with the newly created SD card

Ensure that Nook Touch is powered off by pushing the power button for a while and choosing power off from the menu. Place the newly created SD card into the microSD slot, connect the Nook Touch to your computer via the included USB cable and power it on again. If everything is successive, the Nook Touch LED will switch from orange to green and then back to orange. You’ll see a splash screen on the Nook Touch and less than half a minute later Nook Touch will boot up in a special mode with a whooping seven partitions being mounted.

Step 5: Identify the partition labeled “boot” and copy the file uRamdisk_rooted that you downloaded at step 1 over the existing uRamdisk. You can do this by re-naming uRamdisk_rooted to uRamdisk and just copying it over the old uRamdisk file.

Step 6: Unmount all partitions (not really needed under Windows OS, but you can choose to eject the Nook Touch device just to be sure). Unplug the USB cable, remove the SD card (you won’t need it anymore past this point)

Step 7: Restart your Nook Touch by holding the power button for up to 15 seconds. Without USB cable / microSD card it should boot up normally, with the main exception that uRamdisk will be the rooted one, which is the main point of the whole process.

Step 8: Once up, the Nook Color should be able to connect to your wireless network and you should also be able to adb onto it with the following command:

adb connect <your Nook Touch ip address>

adb shell

The ip address for the Nook Touch can be found under Wireless settings->connected access point.

adb stands for Android Debug bridge and is a command line tool that can communicate with an Android powered hardware. You’ll be able to access the Nook Touch file system, copy and install apk applications and more. For details in how to install adb you can check our article about How to root Nook Color where we detailed the whole process. You can also follow Android Developers adb tutorial as well.

Step 9: How to Enable non-market installs on Nook Touch

1. Download SQLLite 3.7.6.3 or later and install it under the Android SDK \ Tools folder. From the SQL Lite page you can download sqlite-shell-win32-x86-3070603.zip. Inside there is a sqllite3.exe file that has to go in the Tools folder inside your Android SDK installation.

2. Open a command window and navigate to the folder where you have both adb.exe and sqllite3.exe.

Use adb to send the following instructions (there are 6 commands, execute them one by one, not by copying the entire block).

adb pull /data/data/com.android.providers.settings/databases/settings.db settings.db

sqlite3 settings.db sqlite> update secure set value=1 where name='install_non_market_apps'; sqlite> .q adb push settings.db /data/data/com.android.providers.settings/databases/settings.db
 

adb reboot

 

Step 10: Install Superuser.apk for superuser mode – Follow the NookDev instructions

Step 11: Side loading apk. Copy Kindle (or any other apk) on your newly rooted Nook Touch by following these instructions:

adb connect <your Nook Touch ip address>

adb shell

install com.amazon.kindle.apk

or adb install com.amazon.kindle.apk

Replace com.amazon.kindle.apk with any other apk you want to install. The latest Kindle apk version at the time of writing is 3.0.1.70 and it is available for free (Google 3.0.1.70 kindle apk).

If you want to start Kindle, you should use the following command:

am start -a com.amazon.kindle -n com.amazon.kindle/com.amazon.kindle.UpgradePage

You’ll be prompted to sign in with your Amazon username / password.

Note: The space available for side loading might be limited at only 240MB so install carefully and only what you really need. Just by rooting it, you will not be able to increase the 240MB partition.

To start ADW launcher (if installed) you might try to use this command: (not tested, I don’t have ADW)

am start -a android.intent.category.HOME -n org.adw.launcher/org.adw.launcher.Launcher

Step 12: Let us know how well everything worked for you.

A number of apps were confirmed working on Nook Touch including the following:

Opera Mobile, Kindle, Documents to Go, Screenshot it, Evernote, ADW Launcher, Advanced Task Killer, Astro File Manager, Aldiko and Superuser. Amazon App Store also works and if you enabled side loading apk (Step 11) you should be able to get apps and install them directly. You can help us keep an updated list by sharing what worked for you.

Update: There is a workaround that should enable the automatic start of ADW Launcher from the Home button. You’ll have to have Superuser installed (Step 10)  and also an application called Button Savior. You’ll also need Superuser installed if you intend to install Amazon Android Market.

Important (thanks Glucose!): Leaving ADB Wireless enabled opens up the possibility of intrusions if you use your Nook Touch on public WiFi networks. You can use the free adbWireless app from the Market and disable it between sessions, or after you finished configuring the device. Once you need it, you can use adbWireless app to enable it again.

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  • Andrea Gerber

    Did you figure out how to take it back to stock, Chris?

  • Andrea Gerber

    I got this from B&N customer support about performing a factory reset. Not sure if that erases the root, but I post it here for those who might need it. It worked just like this for me. When I rebooted it after completing, it gave me the “Welcome to your all-new nook” page to begin registration again.

    >>>begin paste<<<

    When performing a Factory Reset please be informed that all sideloaded data, such as Wallpapers, pictures, music and movies will be erased during this process. It is recommended you back up all wanted files to an SD card or computer. All Barnes & Noble content will be downloadable upon re-registering.

    1. First, power off your NOOK by pressing and holding down the power button. When the “Do you want to power your device completely off” message appears, tap “Power Off.”
    2. Once your NOOK has powered off, set it down on a clean level surface. Make sure that your NOOK's screen is facing up with the top of the device facing towards you.
    3. Set your NOOK at the edge of the surface so you can access the power button.
    4. After that, press and hold the Power button to power on your NOOK. When your device starts to power on, quickly let go of the power button then immediately press and hold the power button and both the bottom right and the bottom left page turn buttons together.
    5. Continue to hold all 3 buttons for 5 seconds.
    6. A dialog should appear asking for a factory reset.
    7. Tap the "NOOK Home key" to confirm. Tap the "Home key" again to begin the process.
    8. Now it should say it is "clearing data"
    9. We're done with the factory reset.

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com/ soricon

    Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for the comment! There are several additional methods, I just posted a short tutorial here:
    http://reviewhorizon.com/2011/07/how-to-restore-nook-touch-n2e-to-its-default-factory-state/
    It is a good idea to back-up your Nook color firmware before proceeding. I’ll update my main tutorial with this recommendation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yan-Volis/100000196537580 Yan Volis

    How can I adb onto the nook if I dont have a wireless card? I have a wireless router but my PC does not have a wireless card in it!

  • Anonymous

    No, but my wife is on me to get it restored.

    {Opps, i logged in using a different service. I am Chris.}

  • ghollich

    If all you want is the kindle app you should know that once you run it, all your kindle books show up in the standard nook search. Clicking on any one of them automatically launches the kindle app. So no need for fancy launchers or softkeys.

  • easton pillay

    Plug your nook in to your pc and type adb devices to see if it can find the nook

  • siAri Tea

    I’ll receive my NSTR in a couple of days, need advices about the difference between this method and the easy rooting with touchnooter, plus and minus. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Caron/1104245608 Matt Caron

    I have an important question: can you use the browser on 3G, or does it have to be wifi?

  • bülent alkan

    hi, I cant download noogie.img.gz and uRamdisk_rooted. please help me bozyaka27@hotmail.com

  • miguelrivassantos

    same here!

    i cannot the file is not in the server anymore.

    i google it and there is not ln:
    -torrent
    -mediafire
    -rapidshare
    -megaupload (of course)
    -hotfile
    -fileserver

    :|

    can anyone upload the file again or maybe send me the file to upload it in any server. :)

  • miguelrivassantos

    BTW my mail is aguacatekun@bk.ru

  • http://www.reviewhorizon.com/ soricon
  • miguelrivassantos

    thank you misterious man :D