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Old 12-28-2010, 10:11 PM   #1
protheus
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Lightbulb "Hacking" TheBook

"Hacking" isn't really a term that means anything these days. I use it here in the same sense that most people who've used it in relation to this reader mean it. I want to make TheBook do strange and interesting things, the facilities for which Augen hasn't provided. Well, since there seem to be a lot of people on here that use and like the Augen reader well enough, I thought I might create an account and submit feedback on my new project. I hope nobody will mind if I just jump in with both feet and start creating threads here.

So I got TheBook as a present. I wanted one not because I think it's a good book reader. To be honest, I think that any book reader with no e-ink and a battery life that's measured in less than weeks isn't worth considering as such. This is personal opinion, and I'm sure it works for some people. Even so, that isn't something for which I'd really use this device. Rather, I thought it would make a neat little general purpose computer with a sub-netbook form factor, which might also incidentally read books. This is a pretty clear distinction in my mind, but feel free to ask for clarification.

Of course, envisioning TheBook as a general purpose computer presents kind of a problem, since Augen hasn't really provided much information on how to get software onto it. I've been working on that problem. At the moment I'm attempting an "Open The Book" project, which is my own effort to compile what information is available on TheBook as a hardware platform and its included software. It's still early, and I still have an outstanding request open with Augen (no answer yet, but I suspect it may take them until after the holidays to do so) to see if they'll provide the modified Linux kernel code that I'm pretty sure they've used. I have a pretty clear idea of one modification but there may be others I haven't anticipated. Even so, regardless of Augen's answer, I believe the project can proceed by (eventually) building a stock Linux kernel that will run TheBook and a software stack based on free standard components that will allow us to make better use of the hardware in TheBook, perhaps at the expense of compatibility with the DRM. (I'm not certain about this point, but it may be that the DRM stuff is not freely available, and if not, making use of it would be a legal quagmire.)

Anyway, what does everyone think? Am I crazy? Is there any interest in such a project? I'll probably complete it regardless, but it would be good to know that I wasn't the only one after such functionality. You're all welcome to take a look at the Open The Book Project site. Google hasn't gotten around to indexing it in the past few weeks, so you would likely be the first people to see it.

At the moment it contains pointers to all of the relevant information I've found as well as descriptions of the firmware update process which Augen seems to use and a utility I wrote to convert the Augen disk images with jumbled headers that come with the firmware updates into standard Linux CramFS and ISO9660 images from which you can extract the files. It's in C, and comes with a Linux binary. Anyone with a compiler can probably make it work on their platform easily enough and if there's interest I can probably provide pre-compiled copies for other systems. Basically this wiki has my entire set of notes on the workings of the reader. Also it has a cool monogrammed Eye of Horus logo.

I'd love to hear what you think.

Chris
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:12 PM   #2
Nate the great
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I love the idea. I've been wanting someone to hack one of these Kindle clones for some time now.

Good Luck!
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