What is jailbreaking?
Jailbreaking is the name given to the process which allows you to access the full features and functionality of your Apple device by enabling privileged control of the operating system. On Android devices this is known as "rooting". The term jailbreaking tends to be synonymous with Apple devices although it is also used to describe the same process on some other devices, such as the Playstation3.
What does jailbreaking my device do?
In simple words, it allows access to the entire IOS filesystem, which in turn means you can install applications and modify files which Apple does not allow on a "stock" device.
For more technical users, services such as SSH and FTP are easily enabled, allowing you to conveniently manage files directly on the device rather than being tied to iTunes and the restrictions it imposes. Those familiar with OSX, Linux, or Unix will recognise IOS as it is a unix-like POSIX-compliant operating system.
Is jailbreaking legal?
Yes, it is generally accepted that jailbreaking is legal. In the USA, the Copyright Office recognised an exemption to the DMCA to permit jailbreaking, but the exception must be reviewed every 3 years. In Europe and the UK it is a little more of a grey area, but the same general legal provisions stand true. People are entitled to modify equipment they own to allow them to inter-operate with other services, provided it doesn't breach copyright.
I heard jailbreaking allows me to get free apps, is this true?
Getting apps for free which should normally be paid for is piracy, plain and simple. Pirates need to jailbreak their devices as a first step to allow them to use cracked applications, but jailbreaking alone does not enable piracy. The discussion of piracy and how to enable it is against the rules of this forum. We do not support or condone piracy for any reason, and any discussion of it will result in a warning and may ultimately result in a ban.
But if I JB I have to stop using the App Store and iTunes, right?
NO! Jailbreaking in no way interferes with how you work on your iPad today. You can carry on using and purchasing Apps from the App store and syncing and purchasing music, films, and all other media with iTunes as normal. Think of jailbreaking as an enabler. It does not remove your ability to do what your iPad was designed for, it just enhances it! iTunes and the App Store don't notice you are jailbroken and don't treat you any differently to when you were running stock IOS. The only exception to this is if you are being a dirty rotten pirate, but you know not to do that, don't you?
I heard jailbreaking could brick my iPad or render it useless, should I be concerned?
NO! There has, to our knowledge, never been a truly bricked iPad as a result of jailbreaking. The term "brick" should generally only be used to describe a device which cannot under any circumstances be recovered or restored to an operational state. Apple devices are designed with with a failsafe restore mode, known as "Device Firmware Update" or DFU mode for short. DFU mode is activated by a hardware button combination, and as such as no dependency on the state, operational or otherwise, of the IOS firmware. Unless you have a broken "home" or "power" button on your device (or other hardware defect) you will always be able to get into DFU mode and therefore restore your iPad to factory defaults via iTunes should something go wrong.
I heard jailbreaking voids my Apple warranty, should I be concerned?
NO! But, If you take a jailbroken device into an Apple store they may refuse to service it on the grounds that you have modified it which breaks the license agreement between you and them. In that respect your warranty is void. However, you can easily remove a jailbreak from any device before you submit it for warranty repair. Even if you have a hardware fault, there are some simple logical steps you can take to shield the jailbroken status of your device from Apple if you absolutely have to present it to them jailbroken.
But the easiest thing to do is connect your device to iTunes, press "restore". Your device will be back to factory freshness and Apple will never know that it was previously jailbroken. The do not have any special "tools" which can detect if it was jailbroken despite what you may have heard!
I've read that Jailbreaking will drain my battery faster, is this true?
No! There is nothing in the actual jailbreak which will cause your iPad battery to drain faster. Nor will it interfere with your wireless or 3G connection in any way. However, jailbreaking will allow you to add tweaks and applications to your iPad which may, either through their deliberate design or because of software bugs, stress the battery more than normal. For example, an app which enables true multitasking, such as "Backgrounder" will make several applications run concurrently on your device. This will certainly drain your battery faster than a stock device which can only run one foreground task.
How to I remove the jailbreak, or un-jailbreak my iPad?
If you try it out and don't like it, you can remove all traces of a jailbreak by connecting the device to iTunes and restoring it to stock IOS. Simply connect the device to iTunes, put the device in DFU mode, and press the "restore" button. More information on DFU Mode and how to activate it can be found here - DFU Mode for Dummies
You should alway do this if you are taking a device back to an Apple store for warranty repair. Any Apple store employee should service your device as normal, provided you have removed the jailbreak before you give it to them. They will not be able to tell the device was jailbroken, even using their diagnostic toolset. Always plead ignorance if they ask. The best answer is "What is jailbreaking?". If they direct you to this post then all bets are off!
You've mentioned DFU mode twice, tell me more!
You can put your device into a special firmware upgrade state called "Device Firmware Update" or DFU mode for short. Once in this state, any iPad should accept a valid firmware restore request when connected to iTunes.
To attain DFU mode it is often easiest (but not essential) to start from a powered off state, and immediately power on and press the "home" and "power" buttons together for exactly 10 seconds then release the "power" button and continue to hold "home". At around the 15 second mark the device will enter DFU mode although it will still show a black screen. The timing is critical and many people complain their device won't enter DFU mode when they first attempt it. If you see the Apple logo, you messed it up. Be assured, it is all about your timing and nothing to do with your device, unless you are unlucky enough to have a hardware button fault. Practice time and time again. Do not be distracted by the fact that the device resets at the 7 second mark. This is normal and you must ignore it. Once you get the knack you will be able to put any iPad into DFU mode in your sleep by simply pressing both buttons, counting to ten and then taking your finger off the power button.
Most of the recent jailbreak tools help you put your device into DFU mode by providing on-screen instructions and countdowns. This makes the process much easier for beginners and is a good way to learn the process and the timings required. There are lots of helpful YouTube demos of it as well.
What happens after I jailbreak my iPad?
After the iPad is jailbroken, new 3rd party applications can be installed from "Cydia" which is an application installed to your homescreen during the jailbreak process. Think of it like an app store for jailbroken apps.
For the more technical audience, Cydia is a front-end for APT and the dpkg system allowing it to provide packages of files for installation via a decentralised system of repositories. Wikipedia has an excellent article on Cydia with plenty of detail on its purpose, function, and history.
Cydia can be a bit daunting at the beginning, but getting familiar with it is the key to getting the most our of your experience. Some applications you will want to try out will not work on your iPad. It can be a bit "trial and error". Use the search features of the forum and ask questions when you get stuck with a unique problem. Just be prepared to restore if you get a bit too adventurous, and remember you can't truly break (or brick) your iPad with an app!
I'm sold! How do I go about jailbreaking?
First of all, remember the magic word....backup! Connect to iTunes and do a full sync & backup, just in case.
Then dive into the Jailbreaking Methods sticky in the Hacking Section to help you identify the right jailbreaking approach for your particular set-up.
Happy Jailbreaking fellow Hackers!