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On Monday we've released InstallerApp immodestly comparing it to iTunes by saying "it is like iTunes for jailbreak apps". While leaving all those arguments about legitimacy of jailbreak aside, we'd like to clarify one misconception about InstallerApp and explain how it's different from standard jailbreak solutions and what we mean by "running non-App Store apps on iPhone without jailbreak".

Typical jailbreak solution
When you jailbreak your iPhone with a typical jailbreak solution (in a form of QuickPwn or PwnageTool), in addition to patching the iPhone's kernel (to be able to run applications that are not signed by Apple), they also patch several system files. Usually these tools also install Cydia that moves on the first launch Applications folder into user's partition (so when you install any additional apps, you won't run out of space in the 300MB system partition). 

But the main thing that these jailbreak tools do is they open iPhone's system partition to install different command-line tools -- basically, to "fill" iPhone's underlying UNIX OS with some tools that Apple didn't include. By doing so they potentially make iPhone less secure and less stable -- when any app can overwrite (by accident or on purpose) any system file on the system partition and make your iPhone unusable. 

To perform these operations with iPhone, jailbreak tools require iPhone to be in the DFU mode (special recovery mode) -- when you press and hold iPhone's buttons during the launch for 10 seconds when connected to computer and do other weird stuff :) This is where the most users have issues nowadays -- because Apple screwed up in 10.5.6 and often you just need a USB hub to connect iPhone with USB cable to your Mac.

InstallerApp -- not your typical jailbreak
The same DFU mode is required for InstallerApp's Pusher that also does some seemingly weird stuff to your iPhone, however there are some major differences between Push and jailbreak. 

While InstallerApp puts its mobile sibling installerd (special demon application that handles synchronization between Mac and iPhone) on iPhone's system partition, it leaves system partition CLOSED, so no app can write there and mess up your iPhone's file system. It also does NOT install a bunch of different command-line tools (installed by tools like Cydia) and it does NOT replace system libraries.

There are two kinds of applications for the iPhone -- some are just games or small utilities that do not require any modification to iPhone's file system and won't require open system partition. In this case "pushing" without full-scale jailbreak is not required and these apps will work just fine on your iPhone.

DPKG Support "pushing"
However there is a big group of other applications, system utilities and other programs that will modify iPhone's system behavior (WinterBoard, for example, that enables changing themes in iPhone interface). These apps DO require writable system partition and command-line tools for them to successfully functioning. 

InstallerApp has solution for that as well -- instead of performing jailbreak with aforementioned tools like QuickPWN, InstallerApp will offer to install DPKG support files that will put on your iPhone required command-line tools and will make system partition writable. This is basically the same set that is installed by Cydia, but rebuilt from scratch and highly optimized for better performance -- it's smaller too, just 1,2MB instead of Cydia's 32MB. InstallerApp will show an alert warning users about consequences of DPKG support installation, and if user agrees, the same "pushing" procedure will install these tools on the user's iPhone.

After DPKG support installation by InstallerApp any program that requires jailbreak, will work on the iPhone.

I hope this clears the confusion between jailbreak and unofficial applications working on iPhone, and what's the role of InstallerApp in that.

Pusher 2.2.1

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Today we have released Pusher 2.2.1 - first solution that unlocks the filesystem of your iPhone (both 2G and 3G) and puts and a bunch of other goodies (namely, bits of Kate that are made free for you guys) on your phone.

For 2G phones, it will also activate them, if needed. SIM unlock is not performed, so if you own a operator-locked 3G phone with yellowsn0w, hold off until yellowsn0w is updated.

The tool will contact Ripdev server once for the purpose of generating a free license for the Kate components that get installed during Push process.

Thanks to everyone... Mac OS X version is out now and Windows version is coming really soon (today). Keep an eye on the Pusher homepage.

Pusher: Your 2.2 jailbreak

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Dear iPhone users,

In leu of the recent release of firmware 2.2, I think it is a good time to tell you what we were working on in the past 2.5 months. Today, a number of updates are being released, along with a completely new product that should simplify your use of the iPhone, expand a whole new world of possibilities without compromising security of your phone.

I'll start from the beginning. You probably are all aware what jailbreak means, but I will reiterate just to make it clear. By default, each iPhone has two partitions: system one and user one. The system one is where the system files and system applications are stored. The user one holds your contacts, SMS, AppStore applications, music, videos and so on. Historically, for security purposes, the system partition was always in the "read-only" mode, to prevent malicious access and modification of the system files. Jailbreak process was created to facilitate the need of unlocking of the phone as initially it was only working with AT&T network, and user partition didn't allow execution of programs - in a nutshell, it simply allowed the system partition to be writable - so one could add and run third-party applications on it.

Now, more than 1.5 years later, jailbreak has became a synonym of something "hackish", and moreover, some Apple outlets are not servicing the jailbroken phones. Granted, jailbreak is needed to make certain tools work - such as BSD Subsystem, SSH, and some others, but overall nowadays (largely because of the tools mentioned) it actually makes your phone less secure! Why? Because it allows anyone to contact your iPhone via SSH with root (superuser) access and gain access to any file on it - this being your contacts, mail, photos, music and whatnot - and what's worst, you will not even know it happened! SSH is a commonly known protocol, so almost anyone could get onto your phone as long as you're in the same WiFi network. How? Two things: default installation uses the same root password, "alpine" (and 99% of the users never change it), and SSH actually advertises itself over Bonjour! So all someone has to do is open up a Bonjour-compatible SSH client (such as on Mac or almost any SFTP client), pick the iPhone they want, and start rocking!

I won't argue that BSD and SSH are needed by some people who actually need BSD/SSH access on their iPhone - but let's face it, this is mostly the über-geeks. About the only use for SSH for a casual user is an ability to upload files to the iPhone - and, since it's not the only available method, I strongly believe the possible security risk is honestly not worth it.

So my point is simple - jailbreak is no longer needed in its "traditional" form for most people. This is why we have developed a tool that does something else... and it's absolutely amazing. Here's what it does: it puts some tools (including our own Installer) onto the user partition of the phone without opening the system partition up! You get Installer, a whole world of third-party tools that didn't got into the AppStore for some reason, such as Kate, Qik, Snapture, and dozens of others, all that without compromising your security!

The tool is named Pusher (mostly because it pushes some things onto the iPhone, and because we found the allusion funny). It works for both 2G and 3G phones running 2.0.2, 2.1 and 2.2 firmwares. Simply download it, launch and follow the instructions on-screen - the whole process takes about 3 minutes.

To make your life even sweeter, we went ahead and added a few things for free that we thought might be useful - an alternative system font, an ability to set your SpringBoard background, two alternative Cyrillic keyboards, and a few other extras that might become useful. The Mac OS X version is available for download immediately, with a Microsoft Windows one following shortly after.

Of course, because Pusher's process of installing tools onto your user partition leaves the system one locked, some tools will not install - to name a few, that's BSD Subsystem, SSH Server, and maybe some more. But the majority of apps will just work - so you can get the best of both worlds - AppStore and Installer.

You can download Pusher at its homepage - give it a try.

Also a new thing for today is Installer 4.0b10. Other than stability improvements, we have embedded a scripting language named Lua that is used in such applications as Adobe Lightroom and World of Warcraft. Lua makes it possible to write more sophisticated install scripts and we're taking full use of it for our updated products.

Oh, and we are also releasing updates to Kate and Russian Project to make them 2.2-compatible.

Stay tuned for more updates and news!