Kindle Fire VPN

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A friend asked how to configure a VPN on Kindle Fire; the short answer is that it’s difficult, resisted by the manufacturer, and can go away in a heartbeat.

Kindle Fire’s Linux kernel lacks the necessary component (tun.ko) required to connect a tunnel.  This may be because the vendor feels its unnecessary, and space on an embedded device is more of a “prove we need it” rather than “include everything we might need” mindset, or the vendor realizes the possibility for abuse and purposely blocks this avenue.

The possible uses of tunnelling/VPN include allowing the user to use the Kindle from a corporate VPN connection, or more safely from an open Wifi, or to appear as though from a different country which therefore defeats country-based rights-blocking to purchased content (hey RIAA and MPAA, did you know that the internet was global?)

In order to use a VPN on Kindle, the user needs to “Root” it, similar to “Jailbreaking” an iOS device.  As a reminder, the “rooting” will disappear if the device is updated; the actual method used may disappear in a future update as well.  Finally, rooting your device, if detected, gives you an unsupported device should anything else happen to it (covered by warrantee or otherwise).

I write these tech articles to remind myself as much as remind others; the process seems straight-forward, but non-trivial: http://www.geek.com/articles/gadgets/how-to-root-the-kindle-fire-20111223/

In short:

  1. download the Android SDK
  2. set ADB (Android Debugger?) connection to recognize the Kindle Fire’s Vendor ID (0x1949)
  3. set the Kindle’s SDK to use VID=1949, PID=0006
  4. configure your Kindle to accept untrusted sources of applications
  5. Connect your windows laptop with the SDK to your Kindle by USB
  6. Download and unpack a bunch of tools from a website
  7. Enable the “su” command, and download a helper app, then reboot
  8. reboot, and you’re in
These steps seem a bit non-trivial; I don’t have a Kindle to try it with, but it would be fun.

If the process supports a non-windows environment, I’ll update this post.

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