Lambert on Tech Late Night Adventures


Words With Friends Free & AdFree Android FIX

Getting this error when playing "Words With Friends" after updating AdFree?

Instead of having to revert your settings in AdFree and allowing all ads to show up you can remove two lines in your /etc/system/hosts file . This will allow the ads within "Words With Friends" but will keep the rest of your apps AdFree.


1. Download "Android Terminal Emulator" by Jack Palevich from the Market

2. Open "Android Terminal Emulator". If you have a physical keyboard now is the time to whip that baby out.

Type the following commands:

su root

Making sure to press "Allow"

Type the following commands:

mount -o rw,remount -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system
vi /system/etc/hosts

ONLY If you receive the error "vi: not found" or a similar message use the following command:

busybox vi /system/etc/hosts

3. We are now in the land of vi. The most amazingly featured, but difficult to pick up command line text editor. Make sure to only type the following letters. If you make a mistake close terminal emulator by using your back button and start over (You can skip the mount command).

Type exactly:


Inputting the command should look exactly like the picture above. If you start typing and text appears anywhere but at the bottom Press your back button to close terminal emulator start over.


Notice how pressing dd deleted the line. Do the remaining actions the same way:


4. Open your "Settings" application. Goto -> Applications -> Manage Applications -> Words Free -> Clear Data

5. Run "Words With Friends". There of course will be ads, but you will be able to play.

Just The Commands

For those who are already familiar with the command line:

su root
mount -o rw,remount -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system
vi /system/etc/hosts

Settings-> Applications -> Manage Applications -> Words Free -> Clear Data


Read onward if you would like to know why it works.

From the Author of AdFree: AdFree removes most ads in the browser and other apps. It does this by nullifying requests to known host names in the system hosts file.

In other words when you run an application, it connects the ad server to get the ad. AdFree modifies your hosts file to redirect any request for ads to your localhost (Essentially nowhere).

Normally, the ad within "Words With Friends" asks the ad server for ad code, saves it to a local cache, and displays the resulting code. In this case, when "Words With Friends" asks for the ad code, it is redirected to nowhere. This throws a "404 Error - Page Not Found" which "Words With Friends" stores in the local cache.

"Words With Freinds" then displays the result in a container above the game. The problem is the container adjusts to the size of its contents. The 404 Error page is much to large for the container and ends up covering the entire game, making it unplayable.

The reason reverting the hosts file within AdFree does not immediately fix the problem is a design constraint with any mobile platform. In order to save battery power and internet usage "Words With Friends" was designed to only update the ad every so often. When you revert your hosts files in AdFree and open "Words With Friends" the advertisement is not updated and still displays the 404 Error page. Clearing the app cache removes the code.

I hope this article helps someone else out there enjoy "Words With Friends" and still remain relatively AdFree. Feel free to comment and let me know if you had and trouble getting it to work. I imagine most of the trouble will be from getting vi to do what you need it to do.

Filed under: Android Leave a comment
Comments (52) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Thanks! A BIG HELP!

  2. Thank you. I thought i was gonna have to just remove the app. I can’t stand the ads in some other games. And on a sidenote, it helps if you go into settings by clicking the menu button and change the text to green on black. it makes it easier to see.

  3. I get File Not found when I type 1st command: mount -o rw,remount -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system
    What am I doing wrong?


  4. Never mind I must have been hitting wrong key at some point. I changed to Green on Black text and increased Font size and tried again and I got it working.


  5. I keep getting:
    “VI: Applet not available” or something.
    I’m on Galaxy S, Darky’s rom. Does this make any difference?


    • Hi Kevin,

      Use the following command instead:
      busybox vi /system/etc/hosts

      • Hmm, Sorry admin, it still didn’t work.. I’ve got busybox from Titanium Backup I think, I’m not sure… I wonder what I’m missing? )=

    • Worked for me, I’m running on Darky’s Mod with a Galaxy S.

      If you have experience with linux you can probably use another editor other than VI. But VI worked for me :P.

  6. I get an error after the second command, “vi: not found” . Samsung Fascinate

  7. Fantastic help!!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
    Are you able to assist with general android problems? Or are you more like me, and only bother to fix and share what you find necessary for yourself? =)

  8. I get an error after typing ” ? ” it says pattern not found

  9. Sorry for such a newbie question, I’m kind of new to Android & rooting, but this doesn’t modify anything that I will have to undo later to get updates & such, does it? I have never used Terminal before.

    • Hi Nathan,

      You should be fine. Howeveri If you ever update you will lose root/ad free.

      • Thank you. Yeah, I know that new OS updates break root what I meant is if this modification in the Terminal Emulator is changing the OS in a way that will prevent those OS updates from coming OTA (like removing bloatware does) if it doesn’t get put back first? What about updates to the Adfree & Words With Friends app?

  10. This didn’t work for me. Is there any other way you can help?

  11. thakn you soooo much! :)

  12. Great guide, very straight forward and easy to follow… I found once I did the search and it was at the line above a lot of the lines I could just continue to press DD… might speed it up for a few others.

  13. I get a file is read only and cannot be modified at the end… any help

    • Hi Evan,

      Double check when your type the command

      su root

      That you see a # symbol after. If not you need to check the setting in your super user app and make sure the terminal emulator app is not getting blocked.

  14. Ya I get the # from the start and when i type su root it says it has been granted superuser permission. I also checked in superuser and it is allowed

  15. Worked great, thank you so much!

  16. I have the same problem as evan. I get the # after typing su root,
    But still get the read only error at the end. Galaxy s, 2.2.1, voodoo kernal

  17. Hey!!
    Thanks you so much!!
    Your instructions were so easy to follow!!
    Here’s a little trick for those who are still seeing the add page and after doing the Terminal Emulator thing.
    After following your instructions, I had to go into recovery and deleted the dalvik and the cache, and then when I rebooted my phone, the add page no longer appeared on the game :-D
    Before deleting dalvik and cache, i was still seeing the add page, but that solved the problem :-D

  18. great it works! i don’t have those error pages blocking me from playing. just as long i don’t need to uninstall my ad-free app.

  19. Thanks for your help. I have a rom w/ an ad blocker built in so I could use any other work around. This worked perfectly.

  20. Receiving both “vi: not found” AND “busybox: not found”. Busybox version is 1.16.0 loaded via Titanium backup pro utility. Any ideas? I’m guessing it’s some tiny step I’m overlooking…

    Android 2.2
    Kernel Version
    htc-kernel@and18-2 #15

    • Please ignore above. After some “googling” I realized busybox was not installed to the proper location. After re-installing everything worked perfectly!

  21. I am also getting a “read only” message after inputting all the code. Super user is enabled (Getting the # prompt). Droid incredible running cyanogen.

    I have tried rebooting, clearing the dalvik cache, numerous combinations of uninstalling/reinstalling adfree and words with friends… all to no avail.

    I get that blasted pop-up screen on Words with friends even when adfree has been uninstalled.

    Please help!! I can live with ads, but I would like words with friends back!!!


    • Hi Carl,

      I’m looking into what might be causing this. In the meantime you can reinstall AdFree. Open AdFree and revert your hosts file. Then clear your cache and you should be fine.

      This is not the best solution, but it will certainly allow you to play Words With Friends in the mean time.

    • i’m getting the read only too on captivate w/ serendipity 6.2 installed.

      • Hey Chris I am getting the same error and have the same phone and system. Hey Neal I noticed after either the 2nd or 3rd step a messasge appeared on the top saying it didn’t recgonize the “#” symbol. That would explain why Chris and I are getting that read only error. How do we fix this?


  22. Hi,

    Would this work for other apps that require adds to be enabled? Our what would I need to change top use this pub other apps?


  23. Thank you very much for the help.
    I had the “pattern not found” issue but only because I had reverted back in AdFree so the pattern wasn’t in place. After updating the hosts, the fix worked perfectly.

  24. I’m still getting the “busybox: not found” error, even after reinstalling busybox from the market. Am I doing something wrong?

  25. Neal, just wanted to say thanks! I was getting angry and though AdFree was the culprit. Great article!

    • Neal:

      I’m hoping you can help me. I’ve just uninstalled AdFree v0.6.4. Before removing it I had it restore the original Hosts file, or so I thought. Since removing it, and even after reinstalling it I get “hosts”, with a line through it in Titanium Backup Pro. v3.7.7.1. I know this means I don’t have a hosts file installed.

      I have done everything I know, rebooting, uninstalling, reinstalling and uninstalling AdFree again but nothing seems to help. Would you please tell me what I have to do to fix the issue?

      I have an Evo
      Android 2.2
      Kernel -netarchy-toastmod-4.3.4-cfs-havs-less-sbc

  26. I am having issues with my version. They state that the game needs to be redirected. Since I am not technical do not know how to restore. Can you assist.

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