Load Creative Zen V Plus’s firmware on your Zen V

So thanks to a Napster promotion, I’ve got a free 1GB Creative Zen V. If you know anything about me, you’d know that the first thing I did was pop open IDA Pro, and see what I can make this device do that it’s not made for doing. After some quick Googleing, I’ve noticed there’s no modifications or anything for this POS music player. However, I did notice that Creative sells a higher priced player that plays videos too. Anyways, enough talk, here’s how to turn your Zen V to a Zen V Plus (NOTE: You still won’t get radio because it’s not in the hardware)


  1. Download the ZEN V Plus firmware 1.32.01 here. It’s last update was in 07, so I don’t think there’s going to be a newer version, but if there somehow is, follow the “DIY” instructions in the next section to do it manually.
  2. Make a copy of the ZENVPlus_PCFW_L22_1_32_01.exe file you just downloaded. Name it ZENV_Patch.exe.
  3. Patch ZENV_Patch.exe with this IPS file using any IPS patching utility.
  4. Run ZENV_Patch.exe and let it reboot your Zen V.
  5. Now, you should be getting an error on the device. THIS IS NORMAL. The firmware update should fail and put you in recovery mode.
  6. In recovery mode on the Zen, choose “Reload Firmware”
  7. Now, on your PC, force quit ZENV_Patch.exe and open up ZENVPlus_PCFW_L22_1_32_01.exe
  8. Wait until the update is done, and your Zen V is now a Zen V Plus!


Now, how does this work? Well, basically the first “firmware update” with ZENV_Patch.exe makes the device think it’s a Zen V Plus, and the second update with the official file actually copies the firmware on. ZENV_Patch.exe is just the Zen V Plus updater hex-edited to run on the Zen V. You can make your own ZENV_Patch.exe by taking the official update, opening a HEX editor, and replacing every instance of “C.r.e.a.t.i.v.e. .Z.e.n. .P.l.u.s” to “C.r.e.a.t.i.v.e. .Z.e.n” (Please note that the periods represent the ASCII character 00 (null)). After doing so, the updater will accept the Zen V.

Now, maybe one day, I’ll port RockBox or something to it…

Compiling the Linux kernel for Amazon Kindle

So, I recently bought a Kindle 2. As usual, the minute it arrived, I ripped it apart, poked every chip, and then started to reverse engineer the damn thing. Wait. I didn’t have to! I found this out days late, after messing with IDA Pro. Amazon has generously released most of the back end code for the Kindle as open source. (The front end, aka the stuff you see, is written in Java and we might get to that another day). So I decided to compile my own Kindle kernel. Why? Why not. Here’s how:

Part 1: Prerequisites

  • Get a root shell of your Kindle. If you don’t know, Google “usbNetworking”
  • A Linux computer for compiling code
  • Amazon’s sources for your version of the Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200203720
  • An ARM cross-compiler. You can compile Amazon’s code, or if you’re lazy, use CodeSourcery’s precompiled toolchain: http://www.codesourcery.com/sgpp/lite/arm
  • The following packages, get them from your distro’s repo: libncurses-dev (for menuconfig), uboot-mkimage (for making the kernel image), and module-init-tools (depmod)

Part 2: Compiling the kernel

  1. Extract the source to anywhere. If you can’t decide, use “~/src/kernel/” and “cd” to the source files.
  2. Now, you need to configure for the Kindle, type “make mario_mx_defconfig
  3. Edit the “.config” file and look for the line that starts with “CONFIG_INITRAMFS_SOURCE“. We don’t need that, delete that line or comment (#) it out.
  4. Here’s the part were you make all your modifications to the kernel. You might want to do “make menuconfig” and add extra drivers/modules. I’ll wait while you do that.
  5. Back? Let’s do the actual compiling. Type the following: “make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=~/CodeSourcery/Sourcery_G++_Lite/bin/arm-none-linux-gnueabi- uImage”. This will make the kernel image. I assume you installed CodeSourcery’s cross compiler to your home folder (default). If your cross compiler is elsewhere, change the command to match it.
  6. Compile the modules into a compressed TAR archive (for easy moving to the kindle): “make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=~/CodeSourcery/Sourcery_G++_Lite/bin/arm-none-linux-gnueabi- targz-pkg” (again, if your cross compiler is installed to a different location, change it).
  7. For some reason, depmod refuses to run with the compile script, so we’re going to do it manually. Do the following “depmod -ae -F System.map -b tar-install -r -n > modules.dep” Change to your compiled kernel version.
  8. Open modules.dep up with a text editor and do a search & replace. Replace all instances of “kernel/” with “/lib/modules/” (again, use your version string). I’m not sure this is needed, but better safe then brick.
  9. Now copy arch/arm/boot/uImage, linux- (or whatever your version is), and modules.dep to an easy to access location.

Part 3: Installing on Kindle

  1. Connect the Kindle to your computer, and open up the storage device. Copy the three files you moved from the previous part to your Kindle via USB.
  2. This part is mostly commands, so get a root shell to your Kindle, and do the following commands line by line. Again, anywhere the version string “” is used, change it to your kernel’s version. Explanation follows.

mv /mnt/us/linux- /mnt/us/modules.dep /mnt/us/uImage /tmp

mv /lib/modules /lib/modules.old

cd /tmp & tar xvzf /tmp/linux-

mv lib/modules /lib/

chmod 644 modules.dep

mv modules.dep /lib/modules/

/test/flashtools/update-kernel-both uImage


shutdown -r now

Wow, that’s a lot of commands. What did that do? Well, line by line:

  1. Move the files we compiled to the temp folder. That way, we don’t have to clean up.
  2. Back up the old kernel modules
  3. Go to the temp folder and untar the modules
  4. Install the modules
  5. Correct the permissions for the modules.dep file (in case something happened after copying from your computer)
  6. Move the module dependencies list to it’s correct folder.
  7. Flash the kernel (I don’t know why it has to be flashed twice to two different partitions, but if you don’t, it won’t load, maybe sig checks?)
  8. Make sure everything is finished writing
  9. Reboot