Kobo firmware 3.12.1 plus mega update (KSM, kobohack, patch, ssh, …)

(Update 2015-03-02: see also this post for firmware 3.13.1)

Ok, there have been several version of firmwares, and due to some bugs I had to do a full reset of my device, so I collected all the information and prepared a howto. Aim was to get: the latest firmware (3.12.1), the Kobo Start Menu, koreader, coolreader, pbchess, ssh access, custom dictionaries.

Kobo Logo

So what are all these items:

  • firmware (thread): the basic software of the device, shipped by Kobo company
  • Kobo Start Menu (thread): an menu that pops up before the reading software (nickel) starts, which allows to start alternative readers (like koreader) etc.
  • KOreader (thread): an alternative document reader that supports epub, azw, pdf, djvu and many more
  • pbchess and CoolReader (thread): a chess program and another alternative reader, bundled together with several other games
  • kobohack (web site): updated libraries and ssh server
  • ssh access (old post: makes a full computer from your device by allowing you to log into it via ssh
  • custom dictionaries (thread): in particular Japanese-English

Latest firmware

The first step is to update the Kobo to the latest firmware. This can easily be done by just getting the latest firmware (thread, direct link for Kobo 3.12.1) and unpacking the zip file in the .kobo directory on your device. Eject and enjoy the updating procedure.

Nickel, kobohack, ssh addons

There are several steps here, but I have prepared a ready-made KoboRoot.tgz that can be installed that contains all the changes listed below. Get it here: Kobo-3.12.1-combined/KoboRoot.tgz. Be warned that this file is provided without any warranty 😉

Installing the provided KoboRoot.tgz will give you the following list of changes:

  • nickel patch

    In principle one has to get the latest version of the nickel patcher (see here), edit the configuration file, and patch it. Then install the resulting KoboRoot.tgz as usual.

    The patches I have enabled in this build are:

    • libadobe.so.patch: none
    • librmsdk.so.1.0.0.patch: default (‘Fix page breaks bug’ only)
    • libnickel.so.1.0.0.patch: ‘Custom reading footer style (Glo/Aura)’, ‘My 15 line spacing values’, ‘Custom fonts sizes’, ‘Custom left & right margins’, ‘Brightness fine control’, ‘Search in Library by default’, ‘Unitless ePub line height’, ‘Compact homepage layout (Glo)’

    If you need any other patches, you need to do the patching yourself.

  • kobohack-h

    Kobohack (latest version 20150110) contains two KoboRoot files that need to be installed (the second one needs to be renamed before copying to .kobo

    WARNING I have seen persistent font corruptions when installing the libfreetype included in kobohack-j’s KoboRoot.tgz. I recommend not installing it as is, but removing the libfreetype* files first.

  • ssh fixes

    See the detailed instructions here, the necessary files are already included in the above KoboHack I pre-generated. It updates the /etc/inittab to run also /etc/init.d/rcS2, and this one again starts the inetd server and run user supplied commands in /mnt/onboard/run.sh which is where your documents are.

  • Fix ssh password and settings

    This is an important step, please see this old post and follow the steps from step 9.

Kobo Start Menu

Get the latest version from here, unpack the zip file, install only the folder with pngs. Disconnect, reboot, and check whether the pngs are listed in your library. Then install the KoboRoot.tgz as usual. You will be dropped into a start menu that allows starting nickel and do other things.


Get the latest version from github, and install only the directory koreader from the zip into your device’s .kobo directory. After this, you should be able to switch to koreader by selecting the respective icon in nickel, or selecting it from the Kobo Start Menu.

CoolReader and PBchess

Get the latest release from here and install only the KoboRoot.tgz. After this you can start the vlasoftstart from the Kobo Start Menu, and there you can find CoolReader and PBchess.

Custom dictionaries

The necessary directories and scripts are already included in the above combined KoboRoot.tgz, so nothing to be done but dropping updated, fixed, changed dictionaries into your Kobo root into the directory customdict. After this you need to reboot to get the actual dictionaries updated. I will prepare a more detailed explanation soon.

Thanks and references

  • Mobile Read user tshering for KSM, custom dicts, and many advices
  • Ken Maltby for his installation guide and many useful posts
  • yochy4671 for kobohack-j
  • the authors of KOreader and CoolReader/pbchess for the great programs

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