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IPhone Terminology


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List of terms should be known by an Iphone user...

Before modding their Iphone


Activating your iPhone means giving it access to the Springboard by telling your telephone that you are using one of the iPhone's official telecommunication carriers. After having bought your iPhone or after restoring it to its original state, you will notice that you can only make emergency calls. You are blocked on a welcome screen with the iTunes logo and a drawing of a USB cable, and the default message "slide to unlock" has changed to "slide for emergency". This way one obliges you to connect to iTunes to make sure that you use an official carrier (LuxGsm or Vox in Luxembourg, Orange or SFR in France, Mobistar in Belgium, AT&T in the USA etc).

However, if your iPhone is blocked and if you wish to use it with a non-supported carrier or simply would like to use your iPhone without the telephone function, you have to make your iPhone believe that it has been activated through iTunes. This is what one calls hacktivation. Understand that a jailbreak is prerequisite for an hacktivation.


The baseband is a subsystem on the iPhone which manages all functions which require an antenna, like phone line communications etc. Modifying this subsystem is how unlocks are achieved. The baseband is separated from the OS and has it’s own processor and it’s own firmware. It’s firmware is called the baseband firmware. Baseband versions look like this: 4.01.13_G (1.1.1) 4.03.13_G (1.1.3). An iTunes restore will not modify the baseband of your iPhone unless your baseband is erased or downgraded prior to the restore.


The bootloader is the first thing that is executed when the iPhone is powered on. There are two shipping bootloaders, 3.9 and 4.6. The bootloader can be downgraded using hacking methods. It is risky downgrading your bootloader because if something goes wrong, you cannot repair it. Bootloaders perform an integrity check on data and prevent unsigned, non-apple code from being loaded. They essentially police the iPhone's OS, making sure everything is the way Apple want it to be. PwnageTool, WinPwn and QuickPwn patch out integrity checks from the bootloaders, allowing unsigned code to be executed.


To brick an iPhone means to make it permanently unusable, usually through software modifications. A common misconception is that jailbreaking an iPhone could brick it if something went wrong. This is not true. Thanks to the DFU mode and iTunes’ restore system, an iPhone that didn’t jailbreak correctly can easily be recovered and set to its original state.


Cydia is a software application developed by Jay "Saurik" Freeman for the iPhone OS. Repositories that are included with Cydia allow for installation of software packages in which most are available to download at no cost. The software packages are downloaded directly to an iPhone and are located in the /Applications directory, the same location where Apple's native applications are located. Cydia is installed via jailbreaking. It is included in Pwnage Tool exclusively for Mac users, redsn0w for Mac and Windows users or QuickPwn for Mac and Windows users running Pre OS 3.0 devices. Cydia applications can often function on a deeper level than Apple-approved applications, because they have the ability to access any part of the hardware or filesystem that they need. This allows for themes, file browsers and large-scale tweaks.

DFU Mode

DFU Mode is a special mode in which the iPhone can still interact with iTunes, yet it does not load the iPhone OS or iBoot. The iPhone's screen appear lifeless when in DFU mode, making it impossible to tell by looking at it whether the iPhone is in DFU or powered off. PwnageTool exploits a vulnerability when the iPhone is in DFU to flash custom firmware to the iPhone. As iBoot and the OS are not yet loaded, downgrading the firmware version if possible.


A firmware is a small program that internally controls various electronic devices.


Hacktivation is nothing else than activation.

There is only one slight difference. Activating your iPhone is done through iTunes in order to use it with an official carrier. Hacktivation is its equivalent for iPhones that don't work with an official carrier and therefore need to be activated with a jailbreak tool.


iBoot is the bootloader for the application processor on the iPhone. iBoot is responsible for putting the iPhone into recovery mode. During a restore of the iPhone, iBoot makes sure that you are flashing a firmware version greater than or equal to the current one on your iPhone. If this isn't the case, iBoot will not allow the restore process to proceed. This is why firmware downgrades have to be done in DFU mode. iBoot has an interactive interface which allows communication via USB or serial.


Icy is a package installer and manager for the iPhone, created and maintained by Ripdev. It allows users to browse and download applications from a range of sources. Most applications are available to download for free, but some require purchase after downloading, including other software created by Ripdev, such as Kate. The applications are downloaded directly to your iPhone and are generally located in the /Applications/ directory. This is also where Apple's native applications are located. Icy can be installed when jailbreaking, using tools such as "Pwnage Tool", but can also be installed later through Cydia. For more information visit http://www.ripdev.com/icy.

Icy vs Cydia

Icy is the main alternative to Cydia and was programmed by Ripdev as a source of unofficial applications. The purpose of developing Icy was to create a package manager that uses the same libraries as Cydia, works just like Cydia, is compatible with Cydia sources but is "faster, more lightweight, slicker and cooler to use". For more information visit http://www.ripdev.com


InstallerApp is a native Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows application that allows you to easily download applications from Cydia and Icy directly onto your computer. The downloaded applications can be easily installed to the iPhone by USB cable. InstallerApp comes with a special background application which is installed on your iPhone. It only take very little of your precious space, is only launched on demand and exits as soon as the task it is running is done. The main advantage is that you can synchronize all applications between your iPhone and your computer, install a new firmware on your iPhone and synchronize all the apps back again. This way you avoid loosing time by manually installing every single app. For more information visit http://ripdev.com/installerapp.

IPhone Dev Team

The iPhone Dev Team is a group of hackers who have extended the iPhone’s capabilities and have developed many tools that enable the use of applications and telephone carriers unauthorized by Apple.


The file extension ipsw stands for iPhoneSoftware. An IPSW file is nothing more than a firmware file for the iPhone.


Your iPhone has been designed with restrictions that prevent you from running applications obtained from sources other than Apple's own iTunes App Store. To be able to install these applications, your iPhone needs to be jailbroken. Jailbreaking allows to read and write to the iPhone's operating system's partition, thereby liberating your iPhone from Apple's software "jail".

Confused ? Don't worry:

Partitioning is achieved when an operating system splits the memory into smaller separate units. Let's make it real easy: Let's take a pizza as the perfect example. The box the pizza was delivered in and the whole pizza represent your hard-drive on which you can store your files. So if you open the box, cut the pizza in half, that's like splitting up your hard-drive into two pieces. That's what partitioning is all about. The computer opens the box, sees the two halves of pizza and considers them to be two halves, although it's one whole pizza.

Your iPhone operates in the same way. It uses two partitions, one media partition and one partition for the operating system. The media partition is where all your iTunes data is stored: music, movies, contacts, App Store apps , etc. This partition is usually the total size of your iPhone’s memory capacity, but deduct about 500-600 MB for the operating system partition. Apple has set up the iPhone's partition in such a way that the hacking has to be done in the operating system's partition which isn't as easily accessible as the media partition.

The partition on which the operating system (iPhone OS) is installed is the space Apple has locked. This is where the jailbreak lies. Once we gain access to this partition, you can do a number of things, such as:

1.Install unofficial (non-App Store) applications which weren't accepted to the App Store (for one reason or another) or haven't yet been submitted to the App Store

2.Execute scripts and commands (for advanced users)

3.Tweak the visual aspects of the iPhone's OS

Jailbreaking brings these functionalities and a lot more to your device.


Kryptes is a lightweight, package handler that was designed by Sleepers. In fact it works just like Cydia and the other package handlers. Make sure to add following repository to Cydia if you wish to download Kryptes to your iPhone: http://repo.sleepers.net/cydia.


Pwning an iPhone means preparing it to accept custom iPhone firmware bundles (also called ipsw files) in iTunes.

Recovery Mode

Recovery Mode is a state of iBoot that is used during standard upgrades and restores. As iBoot is active, it does not allow you to downgrade your device’s software. Unless it is ‘pwned,’ it will not allow custom firmware to be flashed.


A software repository is a storage location from which software packages may be retrieved and installed. It is composed of sources (web adresses) which can be added to Cydia or Icy. Different sources host different applications, wallpapers or themes.


The iPhone's main screen is called the SpringBoard. It may consist of several pages, depending on how many apps you have installed on your iPhone. The SpringBoard is where you choose which app you want to open.


Secure Shell (SSH) is a method of file transfer for securely exchanging data between an iPhone and a computer (providing that the iPhone is jailbroken and OpenSSH is installed).


Tethering means using a mobile device to gain Internet access for another device.

Tethering works by connecting a device that can access the Internet, to another device that cannot. This can be done through Bluetooth wireless technology or by cable (such as USB), allowing the device without built-in access to connect to the Internet, using the connected device as a modem.


Unlocking your device means opening up the iPhone’s modem to accept SIM cards from unofficial carriers. In some countries the iPhone is unlocked by default and not blocked for use with only one carrier. Such an iPhone can be used with any SIM card. In the USA for example, an iPhone will not connect to any carrier other than AT&T, unless it is unlocked.

Just as the iPhone OS checks the applications that you interact with whenever you use your iPhone, the baseband processor controls your iPhone's modem. The baseband processor has its own, separate firmware from the main operating system, called the baseband firmware. During most iPhone software updates, Apple updates the baseband firmware on the iPhone. The unlock lies in the baseband firmware. By patching out certain bytes, you can bypass the SIM check. For some devices, updating the baseband can mean that you won't be able to unlock your iPhone anymore. Thankfully, the IPhone Dev Team has developed programms like PwnageTool which can disable the baseband to update when the iPhone's software is updated, allowing the iPhone to remain unlocked and thus enjoy the latest version of the iPhone's software. Jailbreaking and activating are prerequisites for unlocking.

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