NOTE: This article is to be an overwhelmingly complete guide to everything anybody would ever want to know about “jailbreaking.” It will be updated with new information, and new segments often. If you can still see this blue text, it means the explanation is not complete yet, but I have decided to make it public so people could get some basic knowledge out of the way… When this text goes away, I’m done, and you will all have an amazing compilation of everything you’d want/need to know about how it “jailbreaking” actually means.
During the course of this article, I will be referring to jailbreaking iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads, and Apple TVs. Please note that I will only be saying “iPhone” in the discussion, even though I mean them all. It’s easier that way, and the most common devices that are jailbroken are iPhones anyways.
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PRO TIP: You can always find tutorials and information on the latest and most up-to-date jailbreak information by visiting the “Jailbreak” tab in the menu above.

So many people enjoy using their phones for a variety of purposes. Some just use their phones for calling, others text too. Some use them for email to keep in touch with clients. Millions of college and high school students use their phones to communicate with friends on facebook while they are on the go. These are all great uses, and if this is all you care to do with it… jailbreaking is not for you.

Some people decide to take it further. They download Apps that help them be more productive or they play games on their iPhone. Some pay a little extra money and use their phone to “tether” to their laptop, effectively turning their mobile devices into a 24 hour traveling WiFi hotspot! Some use their devices for traveling, using GPS, and Google Maps to guide them to their destination when they are in a crunch. Some use their iPhones to FaceTime (video chat) with other people with iPhones and Macs around the world whenever they are near a WiFi hotspot! For the people who are happy with these things, and don’t need anything else out of their devices… jailbreaking, is not for you either.

Then there are those people… those millions of people around the world… that just aren’t happy yet. They are the tinkerers, who strive for individuality at every turn. They are the ones who demand access to the hidden functions and tweaks that nobody else knows about. They are the people who want everything out of their device, and want it to be the best in the world. They are the people… who buy the latest iPhone, and look to jailbreak it before they even sync it for the first time!

For the new people here, or perhaps the returning people who haven’t ever heard of jailbreaking before, there are a few things you’ll need to know about it that may or may not affect your decision to do it or not. These facts of jailbreaking are not difficult to understand, but this article is quite lengthy and bulky. It will tell you EVERYTHING you NEED TO KNOW about entering into the jailbreak world. When you finish this article, I want you to feel comfortable with your decision, whether you do it or not. My goal here is to increase your knowledge on this matter, so that you can be better prepared, and so that you know a trustworthy guy to go to when you have questions later.

“The History Of Jailbreaking”

Not totally complete:

To better understand why people do what they do, it’s important to gain a basic knowledge as to how people began doing it, and why. For that, let’s take a quick break and talk about how jailbreaking came about.

The first jailbreaking method was released on June 27, 2007 and made it easy to stay on AT&T and use an iPhone. Consequently, Apple locked their iPhones to the AT&T network in the United States. Three months after the initial jailbreak, another method was discovered, which led to a cat and mouse game between Apple and hackers to patch and exploit security holes.

In February 2008 an Italian computer hacker named Zibri el Fontu found a very important key inside the iPhone. In fact, it was so important that this is the same key which then led to all the jailbreak methods up to today. Zibri himself coded and freely distributed “ZiPhone.” Upon the nearing release of iOS 2.0 (previously iPhone OS), a hacker group called the iPhone Dev Team released a jailbreaking application named “PwnageTool” that used a graphical user interface to jailbreak 2G and 3G versions of the iPhone, and the first generation of iPod Touches then available. The iPhone Dev Team, and another very similar group known as the Chronic Dev Team have been, and will continue to be huge contributors to the jailbreak scene.

When iOS 3.1.2 came out, the hacker responsible for the first iPhone unlock, George Hotz, more popularly known today as “Geohot,” discovered a bootloader exploit (a hole in the security of the actual hardware of the phone) that allowed him to create and release one of the simplest known tools ever to hit the jailbreak scene: “blackra1n.” It was as simple as connecting to the computer, and hitting the button that said “make it ra1n.”

In February 2010, Apple released iOS 3.1.3 with a security patch that’s essential purpose was to block the security breach that Geohot had discovered. This blocked jailbreak’s once again. However, most iPhone and iPod Touch models could be downgraded, and many did in order to obtain a jailbreak with blackra1n.

In April 2010, George Hotz (Geohot) announced that he was working on another jailbreak that would lead to many happy people who had been waiting a long time to get their fix. However no exploit was released for several months, and Geohot announced his retirement from the jailbreaking scene in July, leading some to speculate that the exploit had been ‘hype.’… It wasn’t hype.

On July 25, 2010, the Library of Congress ruled that jailbreaking was explicitly exempted from provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In this ruling, it stated that jailbreaking was a LEGAL act, and that it was acceptable to alter a mobile phone that had been legally purchased. The device belongs to the consumer, and is subject to whatever the consumer wishes to do with it.

On October 10, 2010, in a surprising comeback, his voice was heard again, and he released his tool, “Limera1n” which he had been talking about back in April! The Dev team had been preparing to release their “Greepois0n” software already, but Geohot had beat them to the release date, using an entirely different method of jaibreak then the Dev team. This was a shocker to the hacking community, and as quickly as possible, the Dev Team pushed back their release date slightly, and used Geohot’s method in their “Greenpois0n” tool. By implementing Geohot’s exploit (the hole in the software I was referring to earlier) they were able to save their own exploit for another time. If they would have used it, Apple would then have two holes that it would be aware of, and would then patch up. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.

With iOS 5.1.1 having been released for iPhone, the Chronic Dev Team has released Greenpois0n Absinthe 2.0, a recreation of their previous Absinthe tool that will allow the jailbreak of iPhones on AT&T, Verizon, and the Sprint network, iPod touches, and iPads… all running the most up to date firmware.

I know that was a lot to take in, and that people’s attention span often won’t last that long. To help with that attention span, let’s focus on something totally random and awesome…

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G9fkvBzzQE

Okay… now that you’re impressed as hell how awesome that bird was, we can get back to the jailbreak talk! Now we’re going to dig into what Jailbreaking really means

That was a very compressed history, but it covers a few primary players in the jailbreak scene, and gives you a brief overview as to how long this has been going on. It is in no way complete, and the hacking world is constantly changing and innovating. It really is a game of cat and mouse, and although Apple continues to patch up all the loose ends that hackers discover, they have been unsuccessful in stopping a jailbreak thus far. In fact, the hacking community will be able to get through for a long time to come, as they currently have many exploits on the back-burner that have yet to be used.

So that about wraps up the history lesson, now on to the main point of this article. I’d like to answer a few questions that I commonly see and hear when ever I discuss jailbreaking with people. The majority of iPhone owners have never heard of jailbreaking before, so I’l start with the basics, and work my way up to the more complex parts. Knowledge is power, so without further adue, Let’s get started with a little Q & A in the next section…

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