Help-Key: Pwnage for iPhone FAQ


The Dev Team, a dedicated team of iPhone hackers responsible for most Jailbreaking methods, has released a tool called Pwnage that was announced a couple of weeks ago.

Pwnage does it all. Unlocking, activating, and Jailbreaking the iPhone is now yesterday’s news. Pwnage actually fully unlocks the hardware to accept any type of custom firmware you’d like to add, effectively making the iPhone a truly open hardware device instead of a platform.

This means homebrew versions of the iPhone OS can be run, giving owners of iPhones essentially unlimited customization options.

You have a few questions about pwnage, and we have a few answers.

What’s so exciting about Pwnage?

Pwnage is the Holy Grail tool for iPhone modders as essentially it lets you mod any part of the software on any part of the iPhone, most notably the OS itself.

With Pwnage, you could theoretically run Linux or another operating system on the iPhone hardware, something hackers have wanted for awhile. But it’s good for us regular folks, too.

Will Pwnage brick my iPhone?

Nope. Worst case scenario is it’ll wipe everything off. Plug it into iTunes and do a restore and you’re back to the factory condition.

What OSes will Pwnage run on?

So far just OS X Tiger or better, 10.4+, though the Dev Team is working on a Windows version that should be out very shortly. There are problems in between the Windows and iPhone filesystems that make it a little more difficult to implement.

Why would I want to Pwn my iPhone?

There are a lot of reasons, but it’s not for everyone. Most notably is it allows you to run code Apple doesn’t allow. For example a version of Safari could conceivably be loaded with support for Flash, with other OS tweaks included.

How is this different from Jailbreaking?

Jailbreak gives you read/write access to your iPhone’s operating system, so you can load custom applications. This is a way of actually changing the filesystem to do stuff the current one can’t.

Will Apple or AT&T lock me out or disable my iPhone if I run this hack?

Nope, in fact it would make it harder for them to do so, in theory, as any secret lockout code the iPhone may have could theoretically be stripped out.

What does it take to install Pwnage?

You put your iPhone into restore mode, launch the Pwnage tool, open a beer, and let it do the work. It should take less than ten minutes, and when you’re done, your iPhone is pwned by you.

Will Pwnage work on my iPod Touch?

Yes. It’s a filesystem tool and the iPhone and Touch have the same filesystem, so it works with both.

Technically speaking, how does this work?

It bypasses the iPhone’s built-in code signing checks. The iPhone has a way to check firmwares being loaded onto it to make sure they’re from Apple, as all previous ones hae been. Pwnage allows the iPhone to ignore these checks, thus the custom firmwares.

OK, so let’s say I download a custom firmware after running Pwnage, how do I get it onto the iPhone?

You hold down option and click “restore” in iTunes, just as if you were installing any other firmware update.

What firmwares are currently supported?

Your iPhone has to be running the most up-to-date version, 1.1.4, or the 1.2 beta that is floating around for developers.

Note: The 2.0 beta firmware that is floating around right now, iPhone1,1_2.0_5A225c_Restore, does not appear to work in Pwnage. We’ve tried and confirmed it failed but I’m not sure what that means.

What about the new 2.0 firmware coming out in June? I don’t want to be locked out of the iTunes iPhone app store.

Not to worry. Future versions of the firmware will also be available. You just load a hacked version onto your iPhone and it’ll work just fine.

Is Apple’s legal team going to break commando-style into my house?

Probably not yours, but the Dev Team might want to keep an eye out for the Apple Gestapo.

Who is the Dev Team? Can I trust them?

Nobody knows. They’re like the A-Team in that they’re always on the go soldiers of fortune always staying one step ahead of the law, and Apple’s firmware upgrades.

The Dev Team is also a group of dedicated, “white hat” hackers. They’re not in this for maliciousness, they’re in this because they know Apple’s made breakthrough hardware with shackles on it. They’re freedom fighters for iPhones.

If I pwn my iPhone and change my mind, I can go back, right?

Sure can. Just do an Apple-style firmware restore and Jailbreak it like it was before and you should be fine. If all else fails, try kicking it into restore mode

I’m convinced. Where do I get Pwnage?

Right here.