Famous iPhone Hacker Comex working on Cydia Substrate alternative called Substitute for iMods

BY Andy

Published 31 Jan 2015

Comex - JailbreakMe hacker

Last month, we brought you an exclusive hands-on of iMods, a promising alternative to Cydia, which has the cornerstone of all things jailbreak.

In an interesting development, Nicholas Allegra a.k.a Comex, a well-known hacker, and is helping the iMods team.

In case, you’re new to the jailbreak community then Comex was the developer behind JailbreakMe and Spirit, which is one of the easiest jailbreaks ever to be released, as it allowed users to jailbreak their iPhone using mobile Safari, and didn’t need a computer. Comex hasn’t been active on the jailbreaking scene ever since he got hired by Apple. Though he later left Apple, and was to work for Google.

Comex is helping the iMods team by developing a substitute for Cydia Substrate (previously called Mobile Substrate) called Substitute. Cydia Substrate, in case you’re not aware, is the powerful framework that powers most tweaks on your jailbroken iOS devices. Substrate makes it easy to modify software, even without the source code, and in a way that allows users to easily choose which changes they want.

The iMods team can’t use the Cydia Substrate as it is not open source, and saurik doesn’t seem to be open to the idea of supporting them. He gave his reasons in the article Competition vs Community. Comex has explained the reasons for working on a Cydia Substrate substitute on the library’s Github page. He strongly believes that “jailbreaking is fundamentally about taking something closed and fixed and opening it up to hacking and modification”.

He writes:

[T]his one is more subjective, but it’s also probably the most important. The way I see it, jailbreaking is fundamentally about taking something closed and fixed and opening it up to hacking and modification: perhaps allowing a mess to be made, but quite possibly ending up with something unique and different. This ideal of openness is very similar to that of free software, and I therefore believe that it’s in the spirit of jailbreaking to make as much low-level stuff open as possible, both for inspection and modification by curious users (who, after gaining knowledge that way, might end up becoming quite valuable to the community). Polished tweaks that are sold commercially are one thing (although they too benefit from general openness, especially the ones with a lot of reverse engineering behind them, since the same reverse engineering can often support multiple use cases), but the underlying framework is another – especially since it’s free of charge, removing at least the most obvious motivation for closing source.

At the moment, Substitute is still in early stages of development, and not in alpha stages yet. But by helping iMods, Comex has certainly given the iMods a lot more credibility. It remains to be seen if and when they will eventually launch iMods, and what kind of impact it has on Cydia, and more importantly on saurik’s commitment to the jailbreak community, which has been exemplary.

But, a talented hacker like Comex joining the jailbreak community again is the biggest positive, and we hope that he and saurik can work things out with developers of iMods.

What do you think of the possibility of a Cydia alternative? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.