Upgrading the Kobo Glo

KoboGlo-FrontDue to permanent fights over my Kindle Paperwhite, I decided to get another eBook Reader, the Kobo Glo (warning – from Japan you will be automatically redirected to the Japanese page at rakuten), so that my wife and me can read in parallel. The Kobo Glo has more or less the same specs as the Paperwhite, one notable advantage of the Glo is that one can turn the backlight off completely, while this is not possible on the Paperwhite. But today, I don’t want to compare these two items, my plan was to upgrade the internal memory of the Glo, and at the same time update some libraries and programs for faster operation. This is possible, since internally the Kobos are just small Linux computers.

KoboGlo-internalConcerning the internal memory upgrade, there is an excellent guide at the MobileRead Forum, which I simply followed. Opening is actually quite easy, I used my id card. When you have finally removed the back cover, there is a nice surprise: The memory the device is running from is nothing but a standard SD slot with a completely normal Micro-SD-card. On the photo to the left the slot is clearly visible in the middle (with the card removed). Another nice thing is that the built-in card is actually 4G card, but only 2G are available due to the factory formatting. Thus, a simple resize operation using gparted or an other of the partitioning programs (see the above guide for Windows programs) will immediately give you double the size for documents.

After having removed the original SD card, I immediately made a image of the card. That image I dumped onto my new 8G super-fast SD card, and used again gparted to extended the last (fat32) partition and file system to the full size. Flip the card into the slot and start the reader, and voila, there are now around 7G of space available. Here are the steps once more with approximate commands:

Memory upgrade of the built-in SD card

  1. extract internal SD card (again see this thread for images and explanations)
  2. make image of external SD card (adaption of device necessary)
    dd if=/dev/sd??? of=kobo-original-sd.img
  3. insert new SD card
  4. copy image onto the new SD card (adaption of device necessary)
    dd if=kobo-original-sd.img of=/dev/sd???
  5. resize the partition sd?
    e.g., using gparted
  6. insert into the KOBO internal slot and reboot

But only internal memory extension is not really useful, who carries billions of books at the same time. But there is a different project that recompiles some libraries for faster operation, and adds optionally sftp/ssh servers and other features, kobohack-j. I got the latest release of it and merged the adaptions into the KoboRoot.tgz, which will hopefully give faster response times for image-heavy books, and improvements for Japanese fonts. Here is the procedure:

Installation of kobohack-j

Prerequisites: original firmware of Kobo (see this thread), kobohack-j-YYMMDD.zip (see here)

  1. unpack firmware of Kobo:
    mkdir KoboOriginal-2.6.1 ; unzip -d KoboOriginal-2.6.1 kobo-update-2.6.1.zip
  2. unpack the original KoboRoot.tgz into a separate directory
    mkdir KoboRoot ; tar -xv -C KoboRoot -f KoboOriginal-2.6.1/KoboRoot.tgz
  3. unpack the kobohack-j-YYMMDD.zip file
    mkdir kobohack-j ; unzip -d kobohack-j kobohack-j-YYMMDD.zip
  4. unpack the kobohack-j KoboRoot.tgz into the unpacked original KoboRoot
    tar -xv -C KoboRoot -f kobohack-j/KoboRoot.tgz
  5. if wanted, unpack the kobohack-j KoboRoot_hack.tgz, too
    tar -xv -C KoboRoot -f kobohack-j/KoboRoot_hack.tgz
  6. create a new KoboHack.tgz
    tar -cvzf KoboRoot.tgz -C KoboRoot .
  7. copy new KoboRoot.tgz to KOBOeReader/.kobo/
  8. reboot reader, it should show “Updating …”

After this the device will run the update binaries/libraries. But the updates will get lost with the next firmware update.

Booting from the external SD slot

The web page of the kobohack-j project also mention a boot hack that allows booting from the external sd card slot, which would make it very easy to change/adapt things, without opening the device. But by now I haven’t got it working. I will report later in case of success.

That’s it, back to reading, at the moment Harry Potter II, in Japanese, but on my Paperwhite, since there I have a nice Japanese-English dictionary.

3 Responses

  1. yochy4671 says:

    I’m glad you seemed to like my project.

    But, but please be careful because I have tested with only the old touch. I don’t have the mark 4 hardware.

    Finally, I can read English, but to write it is not good.

    Thank you.

    • コメントも、開発も、本当にをありがとうございます!
      僕自身はKoboGloを使っています。これまで全然問題なかったですよ。
      一つだけはまだ動いていないです:boot loader hack. でも、僕に対してそれはそんなに大事じゃいないです。
      何かを手伝えれば、教えて下さい。

  2. yochy4671 says:

    Thank you for your suggestion.

    I do not have to sure of yet, but be noticed recently.

    I use for development kobo the i.MX507 is mounted so far, external SD boot was working. But I tries to use for development kobo the i.MX508 is mounted, external SD boot does not work.

    So, I am thinking eratta of i.MX or bug in the SD card driver is causing the problem.

    I can to fix this bug is difficult, because I have not been able to compile a same binary as those from the source code of u-boot on the github still, it is included in the zip file of kobo-update.

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