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A hacker's guide to the iRex Iliad


The iRex Iliad is an electronic book reader device. Its most obvious distinction is its large screen resolution (768x1024 pixels, now surpassed by the Digital Reader 1000, also by iRex). A far more important and less obvious peculiarity (to some) is its hackability. The Iliad runs a Linux operating system, and most of its software is open source.

As has been pointed out before, the use of open-source software alone does not by itself make a device open and hackable. On the Iliad, iRex has got two out of three right: they provide not just the sources, but also a development toolchain for cross-compiling programs for the Iliad (both can be downloaded here). The third part, documentation, is rather inadequate — Though a few of the header files for Iliad-specific libraries are documented for doxygen, most are completely undocumented.

Documentation on the device itself is also sorely lacking. Most of the hacking tutorials are mailing list posts on the mobileread forum. They are very helpful and readily found via search engines, but are not a coherent whole. So when I started tinkering, and as I have a bad memory anyway, I decided to write down what I learned for everybody's benefit.

My version of the Iliad: I own an Iliad Book Edition, the version without WLAN, so you are not going to find anything here on using WLAN. My firmware version is 2.12.1. Other versions may differ in some respects.

Disclaimer: You tinker with your device at your own risk. Anything I present here is provided as-is, and is not in any way guaranteed to be accurate or free of errors. I have not (yet) tried it all out myself. Inappropriate use or interpretation of this information may require you to have your device repaired by the manufacturer, or even buy a new one. Use your brain.

System description

Description of the main components, disk partitions, boot sequence and installation packages of the Iliad

Important configuration files

Iliad-specific configuration files

The hacker's toolbox

Brief howto notes on common tasks

Theming the Iliad

How to change the appearance of the content listings

Developing for the Iliad (1)

Cross-compiling, runnning and diagnostics

Developing for the Iliad (2)

Software environment and API libraries

Developing for the Iliad (3)

A concise and simplified API for reader programs

An HTML and plain text serial document reader

Making use of an open device to improve the comfort of reading serialised texts


Brief definitions for Iliad-related terms


Sites and resources

Specific applications and topics