Sunday, 10 October 2010 15:01

Geohot ra1ns on Apple parade with new iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch jailbreak

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Original iPhone hardware hacker, George Hotz or 'Geohot', has beaten the iPhone Dev Team to an iOS 4.1 jailbreak called Limera1n, giving users to wish to jailbreak their iPad (on iOS 3.2.2), iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch 4th Gen or the iPod Touch 3rd Gen that ability again, after iOS 4.1 initially took it away, with Geohot promising the jailbreak should work with the upcoming iOS 4.2 and future iOS releases.

UPDATED: The jailbreak game of cat and mouse that Apple and hardware hackers have been playing since the original iPhone was first released has seen the latest salvo finally erupt and explode into a million glittery jailbroken pieces.

Update: new version available with fixes, see page 3 for details.

Apple's iDevices, which include the iOS-running iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, were all recently jailbreakable on their previous iOS versions, but once Apple updated to iOS 3.2.2 on the iPad, and iOS 4.1 for the iPhone and iPod Touch, the 'jailbreakme.com' online and instant jailbreak solution ceased working, as Apple plugged the hole in its PDF reader which enabled the exploit.

So, those who wish to delve more deeply into Apple's hi-tech iTech have either been forced to stay on their previous iOS versions, or wait until the iPhone hackers once again find a way through Apple's defences.

Although the ChronicDevTeam, a competing iPhone hacking group to the iPhoneDevTeam and Geohot had announced that it was set to release its 'GreenPo1son' jailbreak for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, at 10.10am on the date 10/10/10, the initial release wasn't going to work with the iPhone 3GS or the iPod Touch 3rd Gen as it used a different exploit to that Geohot was using.

So Geohot then came out and said he'd release his Limera1n jailbreak on 10/11/10, a day after the ChronicDevTeam's jailbreak, but instead Geohot has released his exploit a day earlier on 10/9/10, with these dates being in US style with the first 10 being the month, the second number the day, and of course the last number being the year 2010.

Reports say ChronicDev knew about the exploit Geohot has used but wanted to effectively keep it up their sleeves and have it in reserve to use for a future iOS jailbreak, and to prevent Apple from discovering it and prematurely fixing it.

As you'd expect, reports say the ChronicDevTeam isn't impressed with Geohot, but a feud between the all jailbreakers has simmering since basically the beginning, so tit-for-tat rivalries over whose jailbreak is better and who was able to release it first are to be expected, with Geohot striking a day earlier where it is still 10/9/10, instead of 10/10/10 as it is here now in Australia as I type. 

Reports also say that ChronicDev has been forced to update its jailbreak to additionally feature the exploit Geohot has used, or to simply use Geohot's exploit and to save Chronic's exploit for another time, and given that the Chronic's jailbreak is yet to launch (at time of publication), they're probably hard at work trying to figure out which path to take.You can also see at Chronic's Twitter feed that they aren't happy with Geohot!

However, Geohot is the one who is getting all the current jailbreak publicity because he has indeed launched first with a tool for Windows users, with jailbreak software that runs on Mac and Linux systems to come.

What Geohot says about the jailbreak and its development is on page two, as is a link to the Limera1n site, please read on!


Geohot has placed a brief explanation of Limera1n, what it does, what it supports, who he thanks and more at the Limera1n site.

First, he says 'limera1n, 6 months in the making', letting us know how long it has taken him and giving us a clue as to what he's been doing since the closure of his iphonejtag.blogspot.com site a few months ago.

Then he tells us that the software works on the 'iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch 3G, iPad, iPhone 4, iPod Touch 4G", which continues with '4.0-4.1 and beyond+++', thus promising the jailbreak will work with iOS 4.2 and potentially long into the future for the current hardware and then strengthening this claim by saying that 'limera1n is unpatchable".

Geohot then pays homage to another hacker, saying his jailbreak is 'untethered thanks to jailbreakme star comex'.

He then pokes the ribs of the ChronicDev team saying 'released today to get chronicdev to do the right thing', which is supposedly something to do with which exploit is being used, and follows this up with a reminder that Limera1n is 'brought to you by geohot'.

Given that there's only a free Windows jailbreak version now, we are reminded that a 'Mac and Linux coming soon'.

I haven't tried the Limera1n jailbreak as yet, but Geohot cautions to 'follow the instructions in the box, sadly limera1n isn't one click' and that 'that's the price of unpatchability', and then follows this by gently tugging the heart and purse strings of jailbreakers, Geohot says 'as usual, donations appreciated but not required'.

There's also a note that Limera1n is 'still in beta', and a plea to 'pardon my ragged edges' in the software, although the fact the jailbreak is released implies it should properly for most people with minor updates in the jailbreak software to come.

For those wondering, Geohot informs us that 'AppleTV is technically supported, but theres no apps yet', so even though you could jailbreak your new tiny AppleTV, there's not much point - yet.

Poking fun of his previous jailbreaks where he featured his face, Geohot tells us that the Limera1n jailbreak has 'zero pictures of my face'.

Initial reports online have plenty of people saying the jailbreak works, while others have experienced problems and said they have needed to do a "restore" to get things working again.

So, are there any known bugs? Yes, there are.

Geohot says that the iPhone '3GS new bootrom is broken, fix pending', but this only affects some iPhone 3GS users. There's also a note that if you can't see the Cydia jailbreak app store icon, that 'some people need to restart to get the Cydia icon to show up after installing'.

He notes that 'some people still don't have windows'. As I haven't used the jailbreak myself as yet, I'm not 100% sure if this refers to Microsoft Windows or windows of some sort in iOS.

There's bad news for those running an iOS beta, as 'beta iOS versions aren't supported', but hey, beta periods won't last forever and the next time a new jailbreak should come out much, much faster.

Concluded on page three, please read on!


There's also a warning that the 'uninstall in limera1n app doesn't work', but that 'you can just delete the blackra1n.app directory', continuing before the download link, MD5 hash key and donate buttons saying 'i need regression testing'.

UPDATE: As I was publishing this article, Geohot came out with some update to his website.

He notes that "iPod Touch 2G support coming soon" which is good news for iPod Touch 2G users, but recommends says "for 3G, use redsn0w", which is an existing jailbreak already available online from the iPhoneDevTeam.

Geohot also says: "limera1n app is a white box, i know. use it anyway". I think this refers to the Limera1n app, which is minimal in its interface.

There have been some updates to the Limera1in jailbreak already.

BETA1 - this was the "first release"
BETA2 - then there was beta 2 which "fixed kernel patching magic", with the recommendation that BETA2+ (or Beta 3 etc) re-run the new jailbreak over BETA1
BETA3 - Now there's a beta 3 version, which "fixed new bootrom 3GS" for iPhone 3GS users that weren't having any success with beta 1 or beta 2.

No doubt more updates will come!

Finally'¦ jailbreaking is certainly not for everyone. Most iPhone users are happy with the existing App Store and with the pace of functionality and OS updates that Apple currently delivers.

Jailbreaking, on the other hand, lets you do things with your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch that Apple explicitly doesn't allow, from outputting the entire display, menus and all to an external monitor or TV, to using a Bluetooth mouse with your iPad, to create a 'lock screen' that has upcoming calendar, email and other info and much, much, muuuuch more.

But while jailbreaking is now legal in the US, Apple still frowns upon it and says doing so voids your warranty and can decrease your security.

So, if you know what you're doing, you're probably downloading the jailbreak right now or will do so in a few days once both jailbreaks are out and some of the dust has settled, but if you've never jailbroken your phone before, read up about it first and decide if it's something you really want or need to do, because it can be liberating but does come with additional hassles and security responsibilities you may or may not want to deal with.

Choose wisely, and either way, have fun!

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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