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Teen hacker George Hotz has become the first to release an iPhone jailbreak and unlocking solution. He was not above a bit of self-indulgence, posting a picture of himself prominently on the app's otherwise uncluttered download page.  (Source: purplera1n.com)
This is why he's Hotz...

George Hotz, an enterprising teen hacker who goes by the name "geohot" (as well as "million75" or "mil" for short), won fame and infamy in 2007 when he became the first to free the iPhone from its AT&T U.S. SIM card restrictions.  As a reward, Mr. Hotz won a hot set of wheels -- the Nissan 350Z and a paid consulting job with CertiCell, a cell phone services company.

Now a little older and taller, Mr. Hotz, age 19, has distinguished himself again, becoming the first to publish a jailbreak solution for the iPhone 3G S -- a fix to allow the phone to run apps not approved by Apple.  The first step is to visit Mr. Hotz's page and download the "purplera1n" app.  Mr. Hotz describes the following steps on his blog, writing:
Connect your iPhone normally. Click “make it ra1n”. Wait. On bootup, run Freeze, the purplera1n installer app.
The Freeze installer will install an app called Cydia which allows you to run any application on the iPhone -- Apple approved or not.

Using this newfound freedom, the iPhone's SIM card can be unlocked to run on any network by using the previously released ultrasn0w by the Dev Team.  The Dev Team, not affiliated with Mr. Hotz had published the ultrasn0w app, but had declined to release a fix to jailbreak the iPhone, essentially rendering the app useless (as it was not Apple approved).

The Dev Team had stated that it would release a jailbreak with the OS update v3.1.  Mr. Hotz was frustrated by this, so he took matters into his own hands.  He accuses the Dev Team of delaying the jailbreak release for fear of an Apple patch, chastising, "Normally I don't make tools for the general public, and rather wait for the dev team to do it. But guys, whats up with waiting until 3.1? That isn't how the game is played. We release, Apple fixes, we find new holes. It isn't worth waiting because you might have the "last" hole in the iPhone. What last hole...this isn't golf. I'll find a new one next week."

A Windows-compatible version of the iPhone unlocking tool came last week, and this weekend brought a Mac compatible version.  The Windows version is not compatible with Windows 7, according to Mr. Hotz's blog, and it requires the iPhone to be running OS v3.0 and for the latest version of iTunes to be installed.



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Apple thanks you
By DOSGuy on 7/6/2009 6:29:57 PM , Rating: 5
I suspect that there are people at Apple who are happy about this. Maybe it's just because I hang out with a very geeky crowd, but the first thing that most of my friends want to do with their phones and portable computers is install an emulator and play NES games. (One of my friends can't be happy until he can also install Linux on his portable computers.) I had no intention of buying an iPhone until I could use it to run whatever software I want on it.

It would be nice if Apple could support customers like us, though I understand that they make (and can charge) more money off of the ignorant masses. Ironically, Apple once catered to hobbyists, but now they don't want us DIYers. They make shiny computers that work right out of the box, hide scary/dangerous things like command prompts in favor of a GUI that is so easy to use that you don't need to know anything about computers or how they work in order to use them, which is great. Then they market those computers to people who either don't realize or care that they cost hundreds of dollars more than an identically configured PC. Basically, they want customers who don't know enough about computers and how they work to be able to screw around with them and need to call tech support. They put tight controls on how you can use anything that they make, which prevents you from getting into trouble, but it also drives away knowledgeable customers like my friends and I.

Fortunately, the type of people who program emulators and homebrew software and aspire to put Linux on cell phones are also the type to develop jailbreak software. Once that software becomes available, people like me go and buy an iPhone and Apple gets to have our business, too! The mainstream majority get to play by Apple's rules, and the power users get to install Purplera1n and use their iPhone however they want, and Apple doesn't have to provide any technical support to them.

While it seems like it would be easier to just give customers the option of using unsupported software at the cost of voiding their warranty, rather than secretly hoping for someone to write this kind of software, I guess they have to officially discourage any activity that might make any Apple product an open platform for their shareholders' benefit. While they will have to close the holes as fast as the hackers reveal them, since they represent security problems that malicious hackers may also exploit, they must realize that these guys generate business for them. I just can't imagine buying any kind of computer that I can't use to run any software I feel like running. So, while Apple can't officially admit it, Apple thanks you for expanding their customerbase.




RE: Apple thanks you
By ltcommanderdata on 7/6/2009 9:01:34 PM , Rating: 3
I believe it was tacitly acknowledged that Apple isn't overly concerned that people jailbreak or unlock there phones. I believe when the original iPhone released a significant amount of sales were to people who bought it and then took it out of country for resale to countries where it wasn't available yet. I don't believe Apple tried to crack down on these practices too hard even though it was a concern for AT&T.

Similarly, while Apple is known for it's tight platform control of Macs and the iPhone, I don't believe they generally pursue consumers who hack their platform for interest. Like I don't believe the iPhone OS hackers or the people behind OSx86 hacking OS X have been brought before a court. Apple really only pursues people who try to hack their products and try to make a profit from doing so like Psystar. If Apple really wanted to lock people out of Macs or the iPhone they could just implement some type of TPM chip. The original MacBook Pros had them but Apple decided not to use them. Instead, Apple discourages people from hacking their products to prevent it from getting out of control, but otherwise it just creates an alternate userbase and is good promotion too.


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