Don’t expect Custom Recovery and Pre-Rooted ROMs from Rbox for rooted Amazon Fire TV Edition televisions

It has become almost certain that every device running some form of Android will at some point be rootable. In the case of the Element Fire TV Edition televisions, it happened quicker than you’d expect because, as it turns out, the software version that the TVs ship with from the factory is rootable. It’s always great to have the option to root a device, but before you jump at the opportunity to root your Fire TV Edition television, you need to know that the release of custom recovery, like TWRP, and pre-rooted ROMs from rbox for these TVs is very unlikely. Even more important is understanding how that’ll affect the TV in the future if you do root it.

I’ve spoken with rbox about the release of custom recovery and pre-rooted ROMs for the Fire TV Edition televisions. For those of you out of the loop, he’s the one who has released custom recovery for the Fire TV 1, Fire TV 2, and Fire TV Stick 1, as well as the one who continuously releases pre-rooted ROMs for all three devices. He has told me he will not be releasing anything for the Fire TV Edition televisions.

The main reason for this is the much greater cost of making a mistake with a rooted Fire TV Edition television compared to a rooted Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. It’s one thing to render a $90 Fire TV or $40 Fire TV Stick unusable due to a mistake, but it’s a much bigger issue to turn a $400-$900 television into a very expensive paperweight. I offered to raise funds to buy rbox a Fire TV Edition television, like I’ve done in the past for other Fire TV devices, but it’s not the financial risk of bricking his own device that concerns him. Someone will inevitably brick their TV due to rbox’s involvement, and he just, understandably, doesn’t want to have anything to do with it, even if it’s in no way his fault. For this reason, rbox has decided to not release custom recovery and/or ROMs for the Fire TV Edition televisions.

Even though rbox won’t support modding the Fire TV Edition television, it’s, of course, possible someone else will. Once, when rbox skipped releasing a pre-rooted ROM version of a couple of Fire TV 1 updates because they were minor bug fixes, someone else took it upon themselves to release a pre-rooted update. The Fire TV community is full of talented people, but rbox has been so consistently awesome and generous in supporting the Fire TV that there hasn’t been much need for others to step in. Since rbox is deciding to stand clear in this case, someone else may decide to adopt the Fire TV Edition television as their own project.

Since there’s no way to know if that will happen, it’s important to assume that rooted Fire TV Edition televisions will never have custom recovery or pre-rooted ROMs and to understand the consequence of that before rooting one yourself. The best scenario you can expect if you root a Fire TV Edition television is having to always decide whether you want to keep root or gain the improvements offered by each software update Amazon releases. Without custom recovery and pre-rooted ROMs, you will not be able to have both, like you can with a rooted Fire TV or Fire TV Stick.

However, custom recovery is not only used for updating the device. As the name suggests, it’s also used to recover from a mistake that renders the device unusable. The main purpose of gaining root access is to make modifications to the device that the manufacturer does not allow. With root access comes the risk of making a change that prevents the device from booting. This is why I generally suggest not to root a device until custom recovery is released, like I did when the Fire TV Stick was first rooted. At the time, we did know custom recovery for the Fire TV Stick was in the works, which made that recommendation an easier pill to swallow for most. We don’t have that luxury with the Fire TV Edition television.

In general, if you root a Fire TV Edition television, assume you will one day be faced with the difficult choice of deciding which is more important: keeping your root modifications or gaining new features/fixes by updating. You’ll also need to be especially careful with everything you do that requires root, since there’s little chance of fixing an issue that prevents your TV from booting. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from rooting. I just want everyone to know the risks and to be willing to accept them if the worst happens.

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9 comments
  1. JoJetSki says:

    Good decision by rbox. I think root is great and all but that’s a lot of potential liability to take on. I thank him for all of his contributions on the other fire devices.

  2. AFTVnews says:

    Yeah, I agree. I’m always glad rooting is an option, but it’s a lot more stressful on the supporting end of it when the consequences of a mistake are financially 10 times as severe. If rbox releases stuff for the TV, you just know some kid is going to ruin Mom and Dad’s new $900 TV because they didn’t follow instructions correctly. Even though it wouldn’t be rbox’s fault in any way, it would still suck getting those kinds of inevitable help requests.

  3. tech3475 says:

    Is fastboot an alternative or are the firmware images unsuitable?

    • Could you clarify your question?

      The TV’s are using newer ftv hardware than available in the boxes or sticks. So if you’re asking if any previously released FW images are unsuitable, that is probably true.

      I don’t believe any ftv device has fastboot.

      • Tech3475 says:

        In regards to firmware, Ive read that they were using delta updates in the past for fire os 5 as opposed to full images for each update.

        In regards to fastboot, looking into it more it seems that fastboot is locked by default on the bootloader on existing hardware, with early ftvs as the possible exception.

        Seems strange to me that Amazon would not include some kind of recovery mode, even Nintendo do this.

        • AFTVnews says:

          Correct, the bootloader is locked, so fastboot is useless and can’t be used to restore the device. Even if there was some way to flash a system image, Amazon does not release system images for Fire TV devices publicly, so there’s nothing to flash. I sniff out the update packages when they’re released to give to rbox to make his pre-rooted ROMs.

          My Fire TV Edition television is not rootable, so I’ve sent instructions to Brandon (who has a rooted TV) on how to pull any possible updates from his device, so we at least have some image if it becomes usable in the future.

          I haven’t dug into the Fire TV Edition television yet to see if there is some form of recovery/restore that is not present on other Fire TV devices, but I doubt there is. Theoretically, since /system is mounted as read-only without root access, it will never be modified by your average user, so performing a factory reset should always work to fix any issues that arise. Of course, that’s only in a perfect world, since people with unrooted Fire TVs have somehow managed to brick their device.

          • brandon hammer says:

            There is no recovery options on the TV that are exclusive to it from what I’ve seen. And fastboot is locked.

  4. mItch says:

    Never heard of anyone suing a root developer when it comes to the iphone and iphones cost as much and even more than these TVs.

    • Jeff_C says:

      I do not think the legal consequences are that relevant. The reasons given why rbox will not support root are more to do with conscience If people manage to brick their TV even if his root ROM image was not at fault, would not feel good. Most people can understand and accept that.

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