Here's how to root/jailbreak your BlackBerry PlayBook with DingleBerry!

BlackBerry PlayBook running the Android Market 

[Update 31 December 2011]: OS 2.0.0.4869 (Beta) is no longer available for download, however there is a method for installing this OS to your PlayBook using a local copy of the OS.  Check out OpenSourceBB for the full details.

Greetings to you, intrepid warrior of the digital age! I don't use that word "warrior" lightly. Rooting your BlackBerry PlayBook is a difficult process; even a single mistake along the way can force you to restart the entire process from the beginning. I know; I've been there. I've gone through the process only to be confronted with the dreaded "Jailbreak Failed" message (several times). I've bricked my PlayBook - double red flash and all. I've had my PlayBook rendered useless for 24 hours while I waited for my OS 2.0 upgrade to expire. Using DingleBerry to root your PlayBook is not a simple process.

It is not impossible, though. I know; I'm here, with a rooted, Android Market-having PlayBook. When that simple "#" appeared on my screen - letting me know the root was successful - I literally jumped up and did a short happy dance.

This guide is the result of those hours of trial and error I went through to get my PlayBook rooted. It is filled with all the details that I wish had been available to me when I rooted my BlackBerry tablet. With a careful reading and attention to detail, you'll get there too. At the moment, DingleBerry is only available for use on Windows PC's. Mac support is said to be coming soon.

Before we continue, I would like to thank Shao for his assistance in nailing down specifics of the DingleBerry process. Also of immense help, tayshun12's spectacular guide in the CrackBerry.com Forums. Now, on to the rooting.

What we're going to do

Many users - me included - have not had the best of luck when attempting the DingleBerry root. We got all the way to final step, only to read "Jailbreak Failed" in the command window. To give DingleBerry the best chance of success (and avoid that failed message), we're going to give DingleBerry a clean slate to work with.

To do that, we're going to reset completely by doing a low-level OS refresh. Incidentally, this will destroy all the data on your PlayBook; we'll do a backup first. This refresh will update your BlackBerry tablet to the latest consumer build of is OS, 1.0.8.6067 as of this writing. Next, we'll update the OS to the latest 2.0 developer build (2.0.0.4869).

Special Note: RIM is almost certain to attempt to patch this vulnerability. If that 2.0 version number increases, these instructions may not work. Check CrackBerry.com for the latest OS 2.0 information. As of this update - December 21, 2011 - you can get the .4869 build by signing up at the Runtime for Android page. To get the .6149 update, you can visit the Native SDK 2.0 page. For the best chance at rooting your PlayBook, use the Runtime for Android option; it's the link we've included in the instructions below.

It is only after we've updated to 2.0 that we'll attempt the DingleBerry root. Well use a combination of the DingleBerry tool and BlackBerry Desktop Software to jailbreak the PlayBook. We'll use Desktop Software to make a backup, which DingleBerry will modify. A modified backup file will then be restored to your tablet. Soon after that, we'll know if all worked. Shall we begin?

Preparation

Micro USB CableTo begin, you'll need your PlayBook, a computer, and a micro USB cable to connect between them. You cannot root without all three. You'll also need a few bits of software.

BlackBerry Desktop Software
DingleBerry rooting tool

We'll be downloading and installing the BlackBerry Tablet Operating System. You'll want to make sure you're able to connect to a wireless network (a WiFi network). Since we'll be basically formatting the PlayBook, you'll lose all of your settings. Make sure you have the proper password(s) to connect to your WiFi network.

Creating a clean slate

PlayBook Backup using BlackBerry Desktop Software 

The first step in jailbreaking our PlayBooks is to create a backup. You're going to be completely wiping your BlackBerry tablet; all of the data on there will be permanently destroyed. Personally, I skip this step; none of the data on my tablet is irreplaceable. Still, for just the convenience of not re-downloading all of your apps, you might want run a backup. Please note: We will NOT use this backup with the DingleBerry tool; an entirely new backup file will be used for that step. 

  1. Start BlackBerry Desktop Software on your computer
  2. With your PlayBook turned on and at the home screen, connect your tablet to the computer using the micro USB cable.
  3. After a few moments, your PlayBook will connect to Desktop Software. You'll know you're connected when you see "Sync All" in the bottom right corner of the Windows application. Desktop Software may prompt you to do a backup.
  4. If the software does not prompt for a backup, choose Backup... from the menu at the top-left of the application.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete your backup
  6. When it's finished, do not close Desktop Software

Low-level factory reset

BlackBerry Desktop Software error message

We're now going to perform a sort of factory reset with your PlayBook. I say "sort of" because the tablet won't be exactly as it was when it left the factory. Instead, it's more like a complete wipe of the tablet. The process will also install a clean copy of the latest version of the BlackBerry Tablet OS. If things go wrong, you can always use this process to fix your BlackBerry tablet. This is how I fixed my PlayBook when I bricked it.

If you haven't already, start BlackBerry Desktop Software on your computer and turn off your PlayBook. Technically, you can do this while the tablet is rebooting, but turning off the PlayBook makes this much easier. While the tablet is turned off, connect it to your computer. Desktop Software should shortly present you with an error message saying that it can't connect to the PlayBook. That's fine; it's what we're expecting. We'll click the button in the middle of that message box that says, "Update."

Desktop Software will download and install the necessary the software to operate your PlayBook; keep your PlayBook connected to your computer for the entire process. This will take a decent amount of time; this is a good chance to play some Modern Warfare 3 or Skrym or watch some TV. When the process is done, your PlayBook may restart. You may now disconnect your PlayBook from your computer.

Updating software on the PlayBook

You'll next be looking at the setup screen for your PlayBook. Just like it was when you first started your BlackBerry tablet, you'll need to go through the setup wizard to set the tablet's language, time & date, and wireless network settings. You must connect to a WiFi network to continue the setup process. Once connected to the internet, you will almost certainly be prompted to update the OS; make sure you do so.

Upgrade to the OS 2.0 Developer's beta

PlayBook OS 2.0 Update

We'll now need to upgrade to the 2.0 beta available from Research In Motion. It is incredibly easy to obtain; you'll just need to provide your PlayBook's PIN on a website. After you sign up for the beta release, you'll be able to install the release just as you would any normal upgrade you'll be able to install a local copy of OS 2.0.0.4869. It is as simple a process as the standard PlayBook update, but it is currently the only way to get a rootable operating system installed on the BlackBerry tablet.

I should point out that after you sign up for the 2.0 developer's build, it will be active for the next 24 hours. If you brick your PlayBook after this point, you will need to wait until the 2.0 upgrade expires before attempting to do the low-level factory reset. Factory reset to OS 2.0 is not a valid upgrade path; i.e., it won't work.

Register for the beta build of the 2.0 PlayBook OS
How to downgrade your Playbook OS using a local copy

 

BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 beta 

Once you've signed up, return to your PlayBook and open the tablet's settings. Find and tap Software Updates on the left side. Then, tap the Check for Updates button. The tablet should quickly find (though this process could take up to two hours) the available update. Confirm that you want to install the update. Your PlayBook will automatically download and install the 2.0 beta.

Once your PlayBook has completed the installation, you will be prompted to restart the tablet. Once the tablet has restarted - and you can marvel at the awesome goodness of the 2.0 design - you'll be ready to Jailbreak your BlackBerry PlayBook

The DingleBerry root

DingleBerry 

Now we're on the home stretch; with a clean slate to work with, DingleBerry has a much better chance of working properly. If you haven't already, download the latest version of the rooting tool. Unzip that folder to place where you can easily find it; I strongly recommend moving the unzipped folder to the Desktop. You'll need to find it easily when we move on to getting the Android Market running on your PlayBook.

Before you start running the tool, let's get your PlayBook ready for it. We'll need to turn on file sharing, WiFi file sharing, and Developer mode.

File Sharing

File sharing options on the BlackBerry PlayBook 

Touch the gear icon in the upper right of your PlayBook's screen to open its options. Scroll through the list on the left until you find Storage & Sharing. Tap that. Now on the right side of the screen, scroll down until you see File Sharing with a slider tab next to it. Set File Sharing to On. Do not set a password.

Below that, you'll see a setting for Wi-Fi Sharing. Set that to On as well. Do not set a password.

Development Mode 

Setting the PlayBook Development Mode 

On the left and below Storage & Sharing, tap Security. From the list that appears on the right, tap Development Mode. Set the slider tab sitting next to User Development Mode to On. If you have not yet set a password for your PlayBook, you will be prompted to do so now. Make it something that's easy to remember; you'll be entering this password a great deal during this process. This will also become the password for your PlayBook tablet; DO NOT FORGET IT. If you have already set a password for your tablet, you'll be required to enter it before the PlayBook will enter development mode.

Take a look at that development address; you'll need it later. It is usually best to leave it set at the default setting of 169.254.0.1.

Deploy SSH package 

DingleBerry rooting tool

Now that you have file sharing and development mode running on your PlayBook, connect the tablet to the computer. BlackBerry Desktop Software will ask you for your password. This is the same password you used to enter Development Mode in the step above. Enter the password and allow BBDS to connect to your tablet.

Return to the unzipped DingleBerry folder, and run the DingleBerry.exe file. We've already set your PlayBook up to run the jailbreaking tool, so you can click "Continue" to advance to the first stage of rooting your PlayBook.

Deploying the payload over SSH on the BlackBerry PlayBook

At the top of this screen, enter the Developer Mode IP address. If you took my advice and left the address set to its default, you won't need to change anything. The default address of 169.254.0.1 has already been entered for you. In the field below, enter your PlayBook's password. Once that is done, click the Jailbreak button at the bottom of the window.

You'll see some messages on the screen that say DingleBerry is connecting to your tablet, sending a payload, and then deploying that payload on your device. This is normal and expected. After about 20 seconds, you'll see a message that the payload was delivered successfully. Click continue at the bottom of the DingleBerry Screen.

Make a Backup and Modify it 

Create a settings-only backup of your PlayBook 

Now, we'll make a small backup file containing just your PlayBook settings. From the Device menu (in the upper left), choose Backup... In the upper part of the Backup Options window that opens, choose Custom (selected data only) and then make sure only settings has a check mark beside it. Do not back up media or applications. Give your Backup a name (other than DingleBerry) and click Backup. 

Once the Backup is complete (it won't take long), return to the DingleBerry tool. Below the picture, you'll see a button marked Choose. Click the button and find the backup file you just created. Chances are the backup is in your My Documents/BlackBerry folder. Select that file and click Okay.

Create a modified backup file using the DingleBerry rooting tool

DingleBerry will alter that backup file in strange and mysterious ways and then create a new file, DingleBerry.bbb in the same folder. It's this file that you'll need to restore to your PlayBook.

Restore the DingleBerry'd file to your PlayBook 

Return to BlackBerry Desktop Software and select Restore... from the Device menu. Find the DingleBerry.bbb file that was created for you and restore it to your PlayBook. At the end of the restore process, you may or may not get an error message. I did when I rooted my PlayBook, but it turned out everything still worked fine. Whether or not you got a message after restoring, your PlayBook will restart.

Confirming the Root 

Dingle SSH

Allow your PlayBook to finish restarting; enter your PlayBook password when prompted. Return your PlayBook to Developer Mode, following the steps earlier in this guide. Connect your PlayBook to your computer and enter your PlayBook password again when BlackBerry Desktop Software prompts you to do so. Return to the DingleBerry tool and click Continue. At the top of the screen you should now see a white button marked "Dingle SSH." Click that. A command window will open.

If you ended up with the Jailbreak Failed message, you don't necessarily have to start all the way over at the beginning. From the people I've talked to, some very specific things have to happen at specific times in the restore process for the root to work. Their advice: restore that DingleBerry.bbb file to your PlayBook again and then attempt Dingle SSH once more. Remember, giving DingleBerry a clean slate to work with - i.e., reinstalling the OS from scratch - gives the rooting tool the best chance of success.

DingleBerry successful jailbreak 

If you have followed these instructions carefully and all has gone well, you will be greeted with a command prompt window containing only a single # to mark your victory. Congratulations! In my next article, I'll show you how to get the Android Market running on your PlayBook. In the meantime, take a moment to congratulate yourself on a job well done!