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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  • Nicole Carrier

    How do you start programs other than the Kindle software, such as ADW Launcher?

  • Nicole Carrier

    How do you start programs other than the Kindle software, such as ADW Launcher?

  • You can use “adb shell am start” command. It will give you parameters that you can use in command line.

  • Andrea Gerber

    All I really want is Kindle. I have gotten through step 8 and can communicate with my nook via a command prompt on my Windows 7 box through the wireless network. I have two questions:

    1. Do I have to do steps 9 (enable non market installs) and 10 (superuser)
    2. Where does the kindle apk need to be placed to install it with adb. I have tried, but it says it can’t find it. I have it in my download folder but have a suspicion it needs to be somewhere else.

    This is a GREAT tutorial and will probably keep me from returning my nook touch. Thanks so much…
    ~Andrea

  • Hi Andrea,

    You’ll need to do step 9. The kindle apk can be placed in the same folder where the ADB is located and it will find it right away.

  • Andrea Gerber

    I am not sure WHERE ADB is located. Hints? I know, how could I have installed it and be communicating and not know where it was…I wonder that, too. I am not experienced, just a (too) fearless newbie. After I successfully rooted my old Pandigital Novel, I thought I could take on anything, LOL!

  • Andrea Gerber

    In step 9, are those six separate instructions typed into the command prompt window?

  • On a Windows machine, ADB might be located on C:android-sdk-windowstools, or maybe C:Program Files (x86)Androidandroid-sdk-windowsplatform-toolsadb.exe. Try to do a search after adb.exe.

  • yes. six. What they do is basically pull the settings.db file out of the device, edit it by setting the install_non_market_apps to 1 and push it back to the device again. The reboot is needed to force the reader to re-read the file.

  • Andrea Gerber

    Great, I think I found adb.exe. But that step 9…when I type sqlite3 in the command prompt box it tells me it is not recognized?

  • good catch ;). I updated step 9 with more info to cover the sqllite 3 installation.

  • Andrea Gerber

    Great! Step 9 is complete. I copied the kindle apk into the same folder as the sqlite and adb.exe…but it still tells me it cannot find it. Wonder what i am doing wrong??

  • Andrea Gerber

    Does full path mean (for example) C:UsersMyUserNameandroid-sdk-windowsplatform-toolsKindle_3.0.1.70.apk

    So the full thing would say “adb install” and then that bunch of stuff above beginning with C?

    I have done this, and I still get a “not found” type error. I think my problem is in navigating and what to type in the command prompt window.

    Thanks so much for the help. Would you prefer a private email exhange, or will this be helpful to someone else?

  • be sure to either run adb.exe from its own folder (by navigating to it in the command line window) or use the full path when you refer to the kindle apk file.

  • Luke McDonald

    I’m having a little trouble with step 9. I’m not too familiar with these types of things, but I’d really like to get the Kindle app and maybe ADW on my Nook. I have adb installed, but I didn’t update the driver as in the guide you linked to. Is this step still necessary even though its not the NC? When I tried it, it said “The folder you specified doesn’t contain a compatible software for your device,” and it tells me to make sure it works with 64-bit systems.

    I installed SQLite into the Tools folder but adb.exe was in platform_tools so I copied it and put it in with SQLite. When I clicks on adb, it flashed on the screen, I saw some commands, and then the window closed. Where exactly do I enter the code? I tried just doing it in the command prompt, but it just says “adb not found.” Is all the code entered as is?

    Thanks!

  • Hi Luke,
    You do not need to install the Nook Color driver.For the other issues, try the following:
    1. Install SQL Lite in the platform_tools folder instead of Tools (where adb.exe was initially located).
    2. Open up a command prompt window, navigate to platform_tools folder and launch adb.exe from there
    3. enter the code at the prompt, in the adb session

    Let me know if it works.

  • Luke McDonald

    Alright, so I moved SQLite and adb to the platform-tools folder, launched adb via Command Prompt, and got a list of all the adb commands and whatnot. I entered (i.e. copied and pasted) the “adb pull…” and then the “sqlite3 settings…” and this is what I got:

    Error: near “sqlite”: syntax error.

    Any ideas? Its really great that there are people on here like you willing to help those who know much less about this process. Thanks so much for your help!

  • OK, it was my mistake in here. The adb pull command and everything else should be performed from windows windows command prompt. However, you’ll have to execute Step 8 before, to ensure you are connected to your Nook Touch.

  • Luke McDonald

    Great! I got that to work. Do I have to install SuperUser to install Kindle? If not, what functionality would that give me? Any other apps I’d need it for?

  • try to copy the kindle apk in your platform-tools as well, it should find it.

  • Luke McDonald

    Got it! I didn’t do it under adb shell and just used adb install. I registered and everything seems good. Now I’m not sure how to return to the Kindle app after going back to Nook.

  • I tried typing “adb shell am start launcher” and get a “Error: Activity not started, unable to resolve intent”. I tried using the “am start -a” also and same message. How do I start angry birds or adw launcher on the nook touch?

  • I tried typing “adb shell am start launcher” and get a “Error: Activity not started, unable to resolve intent”. I tried using the “am start -a” also and same message. How do I start angry birds or adw launcher on the nook touch?

  • I was able to launch all the apps. Now, I need to know if I can start an app (e.g., kindle, adw launcher) from the kindle, or do I have to use “am start…” from my pc. Once I enter an app, is there any way to go back to the adw launcher for example? Thanks.

  • I mean from the nook touch…can i launch an app from the nook touch itself?

  • Andrea Gerber

    This is so great! Thanks to the writer here, I now have turned my nook into a kindle! The only feature lacking, in my opinion, is the ability to start it one the device, as opposed to going to my main desktop machine and having to run a command prompt. Other than that, it is GREAT!

    Thanks so much for your help!

  • Andrea Gerber

    Not sure Luke, but I think you just have to open a command prompt again on your computer, reconnect it to the nook, and go from there to restart it? If you figure out another way, please post it! 🙂

  • Steve Moak

    You can launch an app using ADW launcher without a PC connected. What I did was to install SoftKeys. Then I started ADW launcher using “am start” as described in the article and started SoftKeys with ADW. I then set up SoftKeys to use ADW.Launcher as the Virtual Home key and added Home Button to the Notification Bar. Now to start ADW, I select it from the Notification Bar and can start any installed program with it.

  • I found this also:
    adb shell ls /data/app —- to get the full name of the apk
    adb shell rm -r /data/app/#APPNAME

    It works.

    I am experiencing some minor issues with setting this up how I would like,,,can you please email me at dwlima@yahoo.com. I have a series of mini questions, Thanks Steve.

  • I found this also:
    adb shell ls /data/app —- to get the full name of the apk
    adb shell rm -r /data/app/#APPNAME

    It works.

    I am experiencing some minor issues with setting this up how I would like,,,can you please email me at dwlima@yahoo.com. I have a series of mini questions, Thanks Steve.

  • Anonymous

    Doesn’t this rooting mechanism expose your Nook to attack from
    wireless users other than yourself? This seems like this would make
    the nook unsafe to use anywhere but at home(and not entirely
    secure there, either). Take it to a Coffee shop, and what’s to stop a
    hacker from breaking in?

    How do you disable the wireless access via ADB? Convert it to
    use USB for the adb connection, rather than wireless.

  • Luke McDonald

    Yep, I just installed ADW Launcher and started it using the prompt above, then once you get into ADW, you can see all your apps. I also downloaded an app called SoftKeys and now I have a little “button” on the screen I can push when in the Nook reader and it will bring me back to ADW. You might have to search for the apk files online because I’ve read about compatibility issues in using the Market on Nook. I also found Aldiko Reader much better for transferring .mobi file (i.e. Kindle books) already on your computer.

  • my comment related to a different issue I had. I was unable to adb uninstall xxx.apk. I tried Astro file manager and could not and adb failed. the trick is to get the full app name, which may be different than the name of the apk you installed.

  • ok. I am on my last issue now. I can install, run, delete 3rd party apps…but i am stuck on this. Whether I use ADW Launcher or Zeam, my nook touch background is black, and I cannot see logos for “social”, “shop”, “Library”, and “Contacts”. In fact, when I run Advanced task killer, I cannot kill programs because I cannot see the proper icon to kill the checked items. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • ok. I am on my last issue now. I can install, run, delete 3rd party apps…but i am stuck on this. Whether I use ADW Launcher or Zeam, my nook touch background is black, and I cannot see logos for “social”, “shop”, “Library”, and “Contacts”. In fact, when I run Advanced task killer, I cannot kill programs because I cannot see the proper icon to kill the checked items. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    OK, just answered my own question. Just install adbWireless from the
    market, and once you’re done rooting/sideloading/etc, IE done doing work
    via adb, and you’re able to run apps from a usable desktop/launcher
    on the Nook, you should just be able to run adbWireless to disable adb
    access via Wifi.

    I’m surprised that the root doesn’t start people off with Wifi tied down.
    IE, provide ADB access via USB. If you’re somebody who’s just starting
    out with Android, and this is their first rooted device, but they have no
    sensibility about system security… you should be helping to protect them
    by forcing them to use USB first. Let them figure out how to turn ADB Wifi
    access on later once they’ve figured things out a bit(or tell them how to
    do it in your rooting documentation, but after warning them).

    I’m still not completely knowledgeable wrt Android, but my fears are that
    you could end up with a lot of rooted Nooks out there at the B&N stores
    or other public hotspots that are all running with Wifi ADB completely
    wide open. A potential mob of soon-to-be-bots.

  • Hi Glucose,

    Thanks for the contribution. I agree, security is essential and ADB Wireless if enabled, opens up the system for potential intrusions. I’ll update the tutorial to mention using adbWireless after everything is completed.

    Thanks!

  • Steve Moak

    ADW lets you change the background color for the drawer (Menu->ADWSettings->Drawer Settings->Background color). I suggest a dark gray color.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! It’s always nice to be able to have our cake and
    get to safely eat it, too

    Rooted nook touch – the poor mans Xoom. Whoo!

  • Ok. I got it. My ADW launcher was too old. Newest version does not run on Nook touch. new problem: i put Sodoku on it to see what would happen and now my applications seem to have moved to /data/data and my nook does not boot-up to the launcher and i dont know how to run anything now. Should i re-root it? or is there some way to go back?

  • Anonymous

    Hello,
    I just want to remove the dumb memory partition in my nook touch (the part that is set aside for barnes and noble specific content). Do I have to root it to accomplish this? I’m afraid all of these steps are beyond my level of expertise, and I don’t need to run apps. Please advise.

  • Anonymous

    Hello,
    I just want to remove the dumb memory partition in my nook touch (the part that is set aside for barnes and noble specific content). Do I have to root it to accomplish this? I’m afraid all of these steps are beyond my level of expertise, and I don’t need to run apps. Please advise.

  • I am afraid the operation you describe goes complexity wise even beyond what is described here. It is not a good idea to attempt it if you don’t have a solid grasp of the Android inner workings.

  • I understand that the “hidden web browser” on the Nook Touch is not ready for prime time. Will the procedure you have documented so well here, allow one to download and install the Opera web browser for Android, or another Android web browser?

    Thanks!

  • Yes. You’ll have to download the apk yourself and install it via the described method, but yes.

  • I side loaded overdirve, but was unable to log into the library web site. I think it’s an issue with the browser, more than overdrive. I click the field to sign in, and it dumps me back to the ‘select a library page.’ Also, now for some reason, when i press the ‘shop’ button from the nook main menu, it will try to load, then send me back to the page (i.e. ‘home’, or ‘library’) that I was on previously.

    Anyone have a path for restoring back to stock? I can just use Adobe Digital Editions to load library books.

  • I side loaded overdirve, but was unable to log into the library web site. I think it’s an issue with the browser, more than overdrive. I click the field to sign in, and it dumps me back to the ‘select a library page.’ Also, now for some reason, when i press the ‘shop’ button from the nook main menu, it will try to load, then send me back to the page (i.e. ‘home’, or ‘library’) that I was on previously.

    Anyone have a path for restoring back to stock? I can just use Adobe Digital Editions to load library books.

  • Anonymous

    Having problems connecting with the Nook via wireless adb. I have the uRamdisk replaced. I boot the nook, but can’t get wireless adb connection. I can access wireless from the Nook (eg the browser), but I can’t ping the Nook from my computer. I can ping other devices from my computer and the Nook’s IP address is consisten with the other devices on the net (eg. 192.168.1.xxx). I deleted the uRamdisk and copied the rooted version a second time, but no go. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong?

  • Andrea Gerber

    Where can I find instructions on how to “unroot?” I really like the interface on the STR, but I just don’t think I can get over working with B&N, even with the ability to run the kindle app. I’m going to sell my Nook STR and need to know how to take it back to original condition.

  • Andrea Gerber

    Where can I find instructions on how to “unroot?” I really like the interface on the STR, but I just don’t think I can get over working with B&N, even with the ability to run the kindle app. I’m going to sell my Nook STR and need to know how to take it back to original condition.