Breaking Free Of Apple Standards

The reason I wanted to blog about all of my recent jailbreaking feats is mostly because having taught myself all of this through extensive research of forums, YouTube videos, articles and more, I don’t want to forget it all.  I took minimal notes, so this is my way of recording everything that is currently in my head so that as the knowledge fades in the future (as it always has a way of doing), I will have something to refer back to.  I will be writing this tutorial-style so if anyone happens to stumble across this and can use the information to benefit themselves, I’m all for it.

In one of my last posts, I had given up jailbreaking my iPhone 3Gs because of the difficulty.  This is a resolve that I stuck to…oh, for about 10 days, until I found myself at home alone for the weekend (my Better Half was out of town visiting her Sister).  After getting bored of reading and nothing else for the better part of a day, I ventured onto the computer and after surfing for about an hour or so found myself migrating toward the jailbreak community part of the web.  It was then that I decided without much else to do, that I had the time to invest to increase my knowledge.  This post will be about how I jailbroke my iPhone.  I will write future posts about all of the customization I’ve done since.  I’m writing from my own experience.  There are lots of other tutorials out there, I may link to them as I go along, but what I’m writing, I’ve learned and done myself.

First, I will describe the process of jailbreaking:  Basically, Apple’s software keeps you from installing applications from third parties.  The only apps you can get on the iPhone (and iPod touch) are through the iTunes Store.  This also limits things like customization options – changing the appearance and setup of your phone.  It comes with a black background and standard icons on the screen.  All unjailbroken iPhones look the same.  But imagine if you could change your wallpaper behind the icons, change the icons themselves, have a drop-down menu to quickly toggle on or off things like wifi or bluetooth, change the appearance of your lock screen, the system font on your phone…with jailbreaking, you CAN do all this, the possibilities are endless!  All you need to jailbreak is to download a small program written by people who are much smarter than you or I, plug in your iPhone and run it.  It really is that simple.  Almost.

Because the iPhone 3Gs runs on firmware 05.11.07, version 3.1.2 and because it is one of the brand new iPhones that runs on a new boot rom, I had to do a tethered jailbreak.  Basically this means that each time you boot your iPhone, you have to have it connected to the computer because you have to run the jailbreak program each time you reboot.  Kind of a pain in the ass, but since they’ve figured out how avoid this with older versions of the iPhone, I feel confident that they will for the 3Gs at some point too.  In the meantime, it’s not really that big a deal for me.  I realized that although this sounded awfully inconvenient, I rarely ever reboot my iPhone.  I don’t let the battery die, and when I do a manual reboot, I’m at home anyway, so I can easily just plug it in.  In short, totally worth a slight inconvenience to gain the awesomeness of a jailbroken iPhone.

I used GeoHot’s program Blackra1n to jailbreak my iPhone 3Gs.  Here are the instructions: Download the program for Windows to your desktop.  Since I’m using Windows Vista (Uggh, I know) I had to right click and run the program as administrator (the same as running it in XP mode). If you have user control running in Vista (which you probably do unless you’ve learned how to disable it), your computer will ask you a couple of times if you’re sure you want to run the program. This program is safe, so yes, you do.  Click run or allow until it’s open.  Blackra1n is just a small program – a button in a window.

Now plug in your iPhone, make sure to close iTunes if it opens. (There is an option in iTunes to NOT have the program open each time you plug your phone in – this can come in handy if you’re running blackra1n often).  Now click ‘make it ra1n’.

Blackra1n will say ‘entering recovery’.  Your iPhone will turn off.  Now, this is where I had trouble, but eventually figured it out by doing research.  My phone kept getting stuck in recovery mode (showing the cable and iTunes picture on the screen) because I didn’t do this: As soon as your screen goes dark, hold down the home button (located on the front of your iPhone, below the screen) and the lock button (located on the top right of your iPhone) at the same time.  When the Apple logo appears, release the lock button, but keep holding the home button down.  The cable and iTunes recovery screen will appear, wait until you see the GeoHot screen.  You’ll know it because he looks kind of like Frodo Baggins from LOTR with iPhones flying around him…LOL.  Once you see this screen, release the home button and you’re done!  Your iPhone is now jailbroken!  You’ll see the following message from blackra1n:

Now, if for some reason, your iPhone is stuck on a black screen, stuck on the recovery mode screen, never shows the GeoHot screen, etc, don’t panic.  This happened to me more than once, and I freaked out and restored my iPhone in iTunes, then loaded all of my music and pictures and crap back on, before trying again, and restoring all over again.  I really didn’t need to do all of that.  I’m going to tell you, that if it doesn’t work the first time, don’t give up.  Just close blackra1n, and start again.  Sometimes it takes a few times before you get the timing with the buttons down right.  It will work eventually.  And once it does, you’ll never look back!

Now, when you unlock your iPhone, you’ll notice a new icon on your springboard: the blackra1n icon.  It will be wherever there’s room (if you have several pages of apps on your phone, just scroll through them until you find the icon).  Open blackra1n and you’ll have the option to select the following packages: Cydia, Rock or Snow.  Cydia and Rock are both programs that are similar to the iTunes app store, which allow you to browse and download 3rd party applications.  I’ve tried them both, Rock has a nicer look to it, but Cydia has more apps and seems to be more stable.  Personally, I recommend Cydia, especially to start out.  You can use both, I have, but I have read about some people who have issues when they use both programs.  I haven’t, but just so you know.  I do recommend however, that you only install one at a time, if you are going to try both.  Just select either Cydia or Rock, there will be a green check mark next to it, and an install button will appear near the top right of the screen.  Press install and your iPhone will respring (meaning it will restart the springboard – get used to some of this terminology, it’s used a lot in the jailbreak community).  If you want to install the second program, just open blackra1n again and do the same for the next one.

Snow is a program to unlock your iPhone, which allows you to use it on any carrier, but I don’t know anything about unlocking since I’m happy with Rogers.  You can find lots of information about it elsewhere, just google it.

Once you have Cydia or Rock or both installed on your iPhone, they will be icons on your springboard.  The use of the blackra1n program on your iPhone was to install these programs, so if you don’t need it anymore, you can open it again and press ‘Uninstall blackra1n’ at the bottom to uninstall it.  I just left mine there because it’s in a folder and out of the way (I’ll tell you how to get folders on your iPhone in a later post).

Now you can open Cydia (or Rock) and start browsing and downloading 3rd party apps!  To navigate using Cydia for the first time, there’s an excellent tutorial here.  And that’s it!  Have fun!

Some more points about jailbreaking:

  • If you ever need to take your iPhone into the store where you bought it, or send it to Apple or anything like that, you just have to restore it in iTunes and it will get rid of all signs of the jailbreak.
  • I recommend doing some research online about jailbreaking before you do it.  It is pretty straightforward thanks to some excellent programs, but for peace of mind, it’s nice to know what you’re doing, especially because you love your iPhone so much!
  • Once jailbroken, your iPhone will still work fine with iTunes.  You can sync all your music, apps, pictures and everything – your new apps from Cydia won’t show up in iTunes but will still be on your iPhone.
  • Once you’re jailbroken, DO NOT update firmware in iTunes unless you’re sure the latest version of blackra1n will still work because you will have to re-jailbreak after updating.  For example, version 3.1.3 is available for update now, but I’m waiting until I know for sure that blackra1n will work for the 3Gs on that firmware.  You can keep tabs on the latest updates through the main Cydia page.
  • When you do update, you will have to re-jailbreak and go through the same original process, installing Cydia, etc.  All of your Cydia apps will be gone from your iPhone.  Fortunately, Cydia has an option (you get the option to activate it when you first use the program) to record all of the apps you’ve installed so that after upgrading, and re-jailbreaking, you can see the list of apps you had before and install them from there. Sweet!

If you have any questions, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.


~ by Pho3nix on February 9, 2010.

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