Amazon has made the Android-based source code of the Kindle Fire available for download. It’s quite large — over 800 megabytes — and won’t be of any use to casual users. It will, however, enable some custom builds of the software and ROM hacking in the future.
Naturally, lots of the Kindle Fire is not, in fact, open source development. What they’re releasing is likely (no one has taken a close look just yet) the heavily modified Android 2.2 code on which their custom OS is based.
While this release probably won’t have many surprises, based as it is on quite an old version of Android, it will include vital information for hackers. Custom libraries, APIs, drivers, and so on — though there will be plenty Amazon won’t share as well, original code not covered under any open source license.
It will be interesting to see if the hackers can perform optimizations and hacks without disturbing what I am sure is a delicate balance between the underlying OS and the tightly-integrated Amazon services. Providing the source code so promptly is clearly a gesture of goodwill by Amazon, but that doesn’t mean they have to make it easy for people to modify their devices. For example, rooting has been shown to break streaming in some cases.
The device has already been rooted; we’ll update as soon as there are first significant developments in the Fire hacking scene. Update: a quick perusal of the forums and I find that many Google applications (GMail, Maps, Reader) are working if you sideload them, but some have a few idiosyncrasies in the install process.