back to article Hacker uses Kindle as Raspberry Pi screen

A hacker named Gef has rigged up his Raspberry Pi to use a Kindle e-reader as its monitor. “Hacker” may not quite be the word, actually, as the individual responsible identifies himself as an “eclectic yogi discovering the world of computational art and new media” on the blog post where the recipe for the KindleBerry Pi is …


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  1. Bill Posters
    Thumb Up


    Forget the keyboard for the Pi, I need a new keyboard now....

    The last line.

  2. nuked

    WHY would you do this?

    1. toxicdragon

      Its the age old question, the answer?

      Why not.

      It might not make sense to you, it might not be productive or useful but it sure is cool.

    2. Peter Mount

      & why not?

      Although it might look useless & although using an eInk display for normal use is going to be horrendous, I can see some use cases for a low power display.

      All he's done here is to use the kindle as a terminal so it's not that great a hack (& why using a USB keyboard with it is difficult). What would be great is if someone ame up with a true eInk display then you'll see lots of uses for it - think nagios or displaying the current weather etc.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: & why not?

        Arp. Shame that terminal emulator doesn't look to have a -X option so desktop windows can be displayed. Shouldn't be too hard to hack such a thing in though.

        1. Colin Miller

          Re: & why not?

          A "terminal emulator" is UNIX speak for a DOS-box - it's origins are when UNIX machines had multiple serial-port text-only terminal connected to them.

          When X windows was created, one of the first apps was xterm, which created a pseudo serial terminal, and started a command shell ( in DOS/windows speak) connected to the terminal.

          If you wan a graphical display, then you need a full X display. Since the X Window protocol is network based, you can use a low-end machine, run a X server on it, and have the server connect to your Pi, and have the Pi's application displayed on the separate server.

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: WHY would you do this?

      To learn how, why else?

    4. AndrueC Silver badge

      'Because it's there' :)

      I once wrote a Unix emulator for the Amstrad CPC. In Locomotive BASIC.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. AndrueC Silver badge

        Downvoted? Seriously?

        I had nothing better to do at the time (I was studying for an HND at Plymouth Polytechnic). Admittedly I didn't emulate a lot of Unix but I implemented file paths (using CP/M 'user areas'), email, utilities like cat and ed. I even wrote a simplified version of nroff which displayed the output on screen using WYSIWYG by modifying the fonts in RAM. There was even a compiler for a language that had procedures (Locomotive BASIC didn't have them) and that could evaluate expressions. It also had a primitive form of multi-tasking but IIRC the events in Locomotive BASIC didn't fire while waiting for a keypress so it was a bit rough.

        All very educational. I'd recommend writing a compiler or at least an expression parser to anyone as an educational experience :)

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge


          The Amstrad CPC had both blocking and non-blocking input (INPUT and KEY I think)

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: IIRC

            Re the input:I think you're right. I just have this vague recollection that if you left it at a comment prompt the events would queue up then all be fired off when you hit return. Prolly was using INPUT.

            I wrote the expression parser because unlike the Sinclair Spectrum VAL$() on the CPC could only handle numbers. So VAL$(3+4) either failed or just returned 3. My compiler generated BASIC as its output which was quite cute. I suppose you could call it P-Code.

            The whole thing was - funnily enough - klunky and slow but very educational. Programmers often take things for granted and don't ask what's going on underneath. You have to for complex projects of course but knowing about the stuff behind the scenes can be very useful. It was actually called Centrox OS which I suppose could be abbreviated to CentOS but yeah ANDREX sounds good :)

        2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


          Can't understand why you were downvoted either!!??? Did you make disparaging remarks about somebody's new iShiney in a previous comment?

          Why write an expression parser? Isn't that what Lexx and Yacc are for?

          But you slipped up badly though, instead of writing an implementation of *nix for the CPC you should have written a *nix kernel for the amstrad.

          Then the OS of the gods would have been..... ANDREX!!!

          Mines a "lab" coat

    5. Christian Berger

      ...with e-Paper display. It'll probably run for days on a battery.

    6. JP Cavendish

      See post

      "I quickly realized that if I wanted to do anything productive at this point it was better to get myself a computer," Gef wrote.

      Fair enough, but that's missing the point of the Pi by a country mile...

  3. Shagbag

    Looks like an iPad

    Rounded corners. Apple should sue.

    1. mccp

      Re: Looks like an iPad

      What is the point of polluting comments on a Raspberry Pi article with Fanboi trolling? Get a life.

      1. Kane Silver badge

        Re: Looks like an iPad

        Steady on old chap, he's just having a laugh.

      2. Steven Roper

        Re: Looks like an iPad

        What is the point of polluting comments on a Raspberry Pi article with complaints about Fanboi trolling? Must be a fanboi.

      3. Frumious Bandersnatch

        Re: Looks like an iPad

        "What is the point ... with Fanboi trolling?"

        Maybe because it's easy to get a rise out of Apple fans with it? Low-hanging fruit, you might say.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a "hacker"?

    Surely this kind of thing is what real hacking is about(?)

    1. Valerion

      Re: Not a "hacker"?

      I agree. When I saw the title I imagined him cracking open the Kindle case, firing up the soldering iron for some delicate work, and then writing some hardcore assembler to get it all to work, whilst pizza boxes and empty cola cans started to stack up around him.

      Instead he just jailbroke the Kindle using an existing tool and installed a couple of bits of software.

      1. Annihilator Silver badge

        Re: Not a "hacker"?

        "Instead he just jailbroke the Kindle using an existing tool and installed a couple of bits of software."

        Aye, thought that too. If he'd plugged it into a PC, would he have been "hacking" his PC to use a Kindle as a screen?

    2. Crisp

      Re: Surely this kind of thing is what real hacking is about?

      Definitely. Tinkering with something until you bend it to your will!

  5. ukgnome

    How long before he hacks it to his TV or DVD player.

    Totally love the heath robinson approach to bending devices to your will.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To his TV... with a HDMI cable? Am I a hacker for running mine through an amp? :D

    2. Andrew James

      Would certainly be a challenge using the hdmi port to connect it to the tv. Now, i'm not the most technical... but...

    3. Crisp

      Upvoted for using exactly the same language as my post above.

      I really should read all the comments before submitting my own!

      1. ukgnome

        Actually I was thinking more of attaching the Pi directly to the TV system board. As far as I understand most TV's use a form of linux for their EPG etc

  6. Warren Sealey
    Thumb Up

    Great work but why not a kindle touch?

    Touch sensitive screen and onscreen keyboard + basic GUI = Ummm.. ok so it doesn't equal much but it would be fun to see..

    1. Andrew James

      Re: Great work but why not a kindle touch?

      Perhaps he doesnt own a kindle touch, and setting about this at your local Tesco would probably be frowned upon.

  7. TRT Silver badge

    The recent news about Sharp...

    has had me reminiscing about the old Sharp portables with their dot matrix scrolly screens. This just looks good, OK? That's why. Now, where did I leave that old VT-52 and Tektronix Vectorscope?

  8. James Gosling

    Hacking in the truest sense

    AndrueC I've up-voted you. After all I developed a pull down menu system in COBOL. It was horrible, but it worked. I did it to prove it could be done, simple as that.

  9. Captain Scarlet Silver badge


    Why do I suddenly feel like buying old notebook gear with monochrome screens and shoving a pi in it.

    /me fires up eBay

    /mrs get the first aid box ready

  10. fuzzyfelt
    Thumb Down

    The Pi Bandwagon Continues To Draw A Crowd


    Like other less hysterical people have already mentioned, all this "hacker" has done is used yet another device as a term emulator. People have been doing this for decades. The only people who seem excited are the ones who have no idea how mediocre this is.

    It's no surprise that The Register continues to hype and exaggerate any story no matter how small the Pi's involvement is.

    What's the next headline? "30 Year Old VT100 HACKED for Pi" Or perhaps they'll combine the two main camps of fanbois?

    "Mac Book Air HACKED as login screen for Pi" (aka XDM remote display)

    1. James Gosling
      Big Brother

      Re: The Pi Bandwagon Continues To Draw A Crowd

      You seem to have a very narrow idea of what a "hacker" is. One of the offerings from Wikipedia is - "Hacker (hobbyist), who makes innovative customizations or combinations of retail electronic and computer equipment". Seems to fit this scenario perfectly. It does not have to involve using a soldering iron or writing code. And your statement "the only people who seem excited are the ones who have no idea how mediocre this is" is patronizing in the extreme!

      1. crowley

        Re: The Pi Bandwagon Continues To Draw A Crowd

        James, having narrow ideas about what words mean is quite useful for communicating.

        The word 'hacker' once had a narrower meaning that was quite closely linked to the notion of 'engineering', albeit applied to other people's kit. The fact that the term has been watered down to cover such mediocrity is presumably an attempt to make stupid people feel better about themselves.

        Presumably some other term will arise, to once again suffer such degradation. Much similar to how suddenly the word 'technician' can come to mean a cleaner, by prefixing the word 'hygiene', and thus lending a fake veneer of esteem to an essential, but fundamentally -unskilled-, task.

        Perhaps we can salve the feelings of the unemployed by referring to them as 'recreation specialists', or check-out operators as 'accountants', or fast food operatives as 'chefs', or hack column writers as 'authors'... but what when we need to refer to the original specific?

        Maybe those who try to devalue terms -should- be patronised and dissuaded by those with expertise, before they succeed in doing so.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Pi Bandwagon Continues To Draw A Crowd

      "all this "hacker" has done is used yet another device as a term emulator. People have been doing this for decades. The only people who seem excited are the ones who have no idea how mediocre this is."

      Ok, fair enough. So tell us, what are *your* exploits then?

  11. John Robson Silver badge

    It's fun!

    This person might not have done it before, and it provides a nice low power display.

    OK - I'm still waiting for a DSI-eInk (or hdmi eInk would be nice) screen for the thing - that would open up all sorts of interesting portable functions.

  12. Pirate Dave

    Eclectic yogi

    “eclectic yogi discovering the world of computational art and new media”

    So AManFromMars is the hacker? Could be, but I didn't have to think very hard to understand the guy's instructions on how his hack worked, whereas trying to figure out what AMFM is saying usually ties my brain in knots.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eclectic yogi

      No, he seems not to be an tedious tinfoil hatter with a curious sense of his own importance and A Fixation For random capitalisation, so probably not.

  13. jon 72


    I think he's onto something, a laptop, notebook or tablet style device with a screen that's easily readable under full daylight conditions and uses very little electrical power. Imagine battery life measured in months not hours.

    1. JS Greenwood

      Re: Impressive

      I'm thinking something akin to a Pi, running a decent GUI, eInk or composite (touchscreen) screen, clamshell design, little keyboard... and you've got a Psion for the 21st Century. I'll take 2, please.

      1. James Gosling

        Re: Impressive

        I'm still waiting for my Raspberry Pi to arrive! Lead time was 17 weeks when I ordered it for gawds sake!

        1. Return To Sender
          Thumb Up

          Re: Impressive


          If you've got yours on order with RS, cancel it and order from Farnell (element14). Or order it from Farnell then cancel RS when it arrives. Lots of folk have been reporting huge delays from RS, whereas some people have even reported next-day delivery from Farnell. Something going on there, not sure exactly what. Oh, and yes, my did come from Farnell and no, I don't have anything to do with them apart from being a customer...

  14. Stevie Silver badge


    Wow, Sharwood, you spent so much time on snark (about a third of the "article") you forgot to justify the headline.

  15. csumpi

    Awesome pairing.

    This is great, because the speed of the rpi (or rather lack of it) matches the refresh rate of the e-ink kindle.

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