Kindle Fire 7″ 5th Gen: Root, Custom Home Screen, Etc

Recently I picked up a Kindle Fire 7″ 5th Gen from Best Buy because they were on sale. I love reading (both books and magazines) and honestly: it’s a super convenient little tablet. For what I paid for it ($40 or so) I couldn’t be happier.

Or so I thought.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A lot of users are mentioning that they can’t find the drivers in the specified path anymore.  I have confirmed this on the latest build of Windows 10 – I did not create the drivers, I merely wrote a guide for doing the steps because I was tired of watching videos for things that could be simple words.  If you cannot find the drivers in the path it is because of an issue outside of my scope of ability to look into — it is likely a change in Windows.  I’m sorry. 🙁

After about a month of using it I started getting some very frustrating behaviors from the stock Kindle interface (a HEAVILY modified and locked down version of Android OS called FireOS):

  • Advertisements on the lock screen
  • Advertisements on the home screen
  • General slowness and unresponsiveness
  • No Google Play Store (instead Amazon App Store, which has less apps and apps which are free on Google Play Store cost money on the Amazon App Store)

I spent a lot of time trying to research what I could do about this, and it came down to something fairly simple.  I do it on my personal phone all the time: Custom ROM.  Score.  I’ll turn this $40 device into something really powerful and useful.

Unfortunately, the support for this model is fairly lacking at the moment (I only found 2 ROMs: Slim ROM and CM12.1; I tried both and they were both a little lacking between bugs and missing features; Update: as of 3/7 RootJunky has shown AOSP to work pretty well on Kindle Fire 5th Gen, I will need to do independent testing to confirm this).  Ok, fine, no Custom ROM.  Well, what else can we do? Lots, as it turns out.

The awesome people over at RootJunky have developed a tool specifically for the Kindle Fire 5th gen to get a bunch of features that you normally wouldn’t have access to.  You can view their videos here on YouTube.

That being said: a lot of the instructions are videos and sometimes I like to have just a simple text document to follow (especially when it comes to rooting).

So, here’s what I had to do to get root, the Google Play Store, and a custom home screen/launcher installed to turn this tablet into a powerhouse.

  1. Head on over to RootJunkysDL site here.  Download the latest version of the SuperTool (AmazonFire5thGenSuperTool.zip from 3/4 as of 3/7).
  2. Extract that to some place on your hard drive (I did c:\SuperTool).
  3. Enable ADB on your Fire 5th Gen
    1. On your Fire, go to Settings (drag down from the top status bar at the home screen; there should be a button there)
    2. Go to Device Options
    3. Tap on the Serial Number field 7 times.
    4. You will now have Developer Options below the Serial Number field.
    5. Open Developer Options.
    6. Make sure “Enable ADB” is selected and turned on.
  4. Run the 1-Amazon-Fire-5th-gen.bat tool from SuperTool.
  5. Press 1 to install the ADB and Fastboot drivers you need.  This is very important.  Don’t skip it.
    1. Press 1 to install the ADB driver.
    2. You’ll end up back at the start screen for the script.  Press 1 again to re-enter the ADB/Fastboot install.
    3. Press 2 to install the Fastboot driver.
    4. You’ll end up back at the start screen for the script.
    5. (Optional) Press 1 again to re-enter the ADB/Fastboot install.
    6. (Optional) Press 3 to test ADB and Fastboot installs.
  6. When Step 5 above is complete (installing ADB and Fastboot), go ahead and Press 2 to Install Google Play store.  Follow any on screen prompts.  Pay close attention to when you need to press keys on your computer to proceed through the script.
    1. Reboot your Fire after this is complete.
  7. When Step 6 above is complete (installing Play store), go ahead and press 6 to Root your Amazon Fire 5th Gen.
    1. Depending on your Fire OS version, select the appropriate option for <=5.0.1 or 5.1.1.  If you took the latest updates, you’re on 5.1.1 (as of 3/7).
    2. Again, follow any on screen prompts. Pay very close attention to when you need to press keys again.
  8. When Step 7 above is complete (Rooting), go ahead and press 8 to remove the lock screen ads.
    1. Again, follow any on screen prompts. Pay very close attention to when you need to press keys again.  I’ll keep repeating that bit, but honestly you should get it at this point.
  9. When Step 8 above is complete (removing lock screen ads), go ahead and press 7 to change the stock launcher to nova launcher. Again, follow any on screen prompts. Pay very close attention to when you need to press keys.
    1. Select option 1 to replace the Amazon Fire Launcher with Nova Launcher.
    2. (Optional) once this is complete, you can switch to ANY launcher you can install by installing it from the Play Store and then uninstalling Nova Launcher.  The Fire will then ask you which launcher you want to use after you press the Home button.
  10. Important!  Once back at the main menu, you need to press 3 to block OTA updates from Amazon.
    1. Depending on your Fire OS version, select the appropriate option for <=5.0.1 or 5.1.1.  If you took the latest updates, you’re on 5.1.1 (as of 3/7).
    2. Again, follow any on screen prompts. Pay very close attention to when you need to press keys again.  I’ll keep repeating that bit, but honestly you should get it at this point.

That’s it.  Now you get to enjoy your Amazon Fire 5th Gen (7″) without any of the Amazon crappy bloatware.

When I get home tonight I’ll take a look at AOSP on the Fire to get a stock Nexus experience.

-M, out.

20 comments

  1. Thanks for this! I’ll definitely be trying out your instructions soon. Do let us know what you think of the AOSP once you’ve test-driven it.

    1. I’ve been running the AOSP for a few days now (pretty much the day after I wrote the post).

      It’s amazing.

      I’ll be doing a blog post on it probably Saturday or Sunday (similar to this one; it’ll have the step-by-step instructions and my thoughts).

    1. As far as I’ve heard it should work fine without any extra steps on Windows 10 64-bit (the environment I use). Where did you have a problem and what error did you encounter specifically? I will try and look into it for you.

      1. Hi, I know I’m replying to an old post but just wondering if you found the solution to loading drivers under Windows 10 64-bit?

        I tried this for the first time tonight by following your instructions and ran into difficulties after step 5.2. Device manager opens, and I follow the instructions in the command window down as far as browsing to the usb drivers folder. The only file I can see is android_winusb.inf but when I select it the message appears “The folder you specified doesn’t contain a compatible software driver for your device. If the folder contains a driver, make sure it is designed to work with Windows for x64-based systems.”

        Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

        1. No worries dude. I just tried it and it didn’t work for me either. It’s possible that a recent Windows Anniversary Update broke the driver install. You can try navigating to the driver folder and right clicking on the INF file and selecting install. If it doesn’t work you’ll need to wait until an updated driver compatible with Windows 10 is released. 🙁

  2. I would just like to say thank you for this wonderful guide. Today was the final straw, I had time on my hands and I had the will to finally root my Kindle Fire. After an hour or so fiddling, and it turned out I had to downgrade the tablet with the old firmware and SDK, I eventually got there. Now, I have a rooted tablet for life. Thank you very, very much.

    1. Glad it worked for you!

      Do you remember the steps for downgrading with the SDK? If so, could you post ’em here or email me so I can post ’em here in case anyone else needs ’em? mike at talesofatech dot com

      1. Yeah certainly! I also followed your steps on how to flash the device, worked a charm. I’m using the ROM you provided. Feels good to have a liberated Kindle Fire 😀 I’ll advertise your blog for you if you like, to get other people on board.

    1. A lot of users are mentioning that they can’t find the drivers in the specified path anymore. I have confirmed this on the latest build of Windows 10 – I did not create the drivers, I merely wrote a guide for doing the steps because I was tired of watching videos for things that could be simple words. If you cannot find the drivers in the path it is because of an issue outside of my scope of ability to look into — it is likely a change in Windows. I’m sorry. 🙁

  3. I’ve been trying to find a way to root my 5th gen for days. What I’m gathering is that these files/etc. were written back when the 5th Gen came out. Mine is running Fire OS 5.4.0.1. Looks like the root only works on Fires operating 5.1.1. I’m not looking to Brick my Fire. I just want to make it better. BTW I downloaded the files from rootjunky. Even before I seen your writing on it. As a mater of fact I’ve downloaded twice. Each time my Norton Anti-Virus yanks it & quarantines it saying that both files are Trojan2. Do you have any idea how I Can go about actually Rooting this Fire? This is driving me nuts! Thanks.

    1. Sorry Marc, I haven’t had to update or root in a while so I can’t confirm what the new steps are.

      I’d recommend checking out xda-developers for a guide on how to do this now.

      Good luck!

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