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

It’s been a long time since we’ve heard Comex’s name be associated with jailbreaking, but he’s back, and in a fairly large and controversial way. The creator of JailbreakMe is working with the team behind iMods—a Cydia alternative—to develop a Mobile (Cydia) Substrate replacement called Substitute. On the surface, it may not sound like much, but this could have far-reaching consequences on jailbreaking as we currently know it.

The iMods team released a trailer late last year highlighting the UI of their Cydia alternative. Visually, it looks appealing, but like so many of these so-called Cydia alternatives, shipping something that works for a massive number of users is a whole different ballgame.

But having Comex on their side is definitely a step in the right direction. There’s no question that he has the aptitude and ability to pull of a Cydia Substrate replacement given adequate time to work on it.

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.

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