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The creator of JailbreakMe talks about his “switch to Apple

A few days ago we told you about Nicholas “Comex” Allegra, the creator of the website (by far, the easiest and fastest way to jailbreak our devices with iOS) and the news that he will start working for Apple in Cupertino as an intern. As expected there were conflicting reactions and while some saw this decision as a logical one to find us in their situation, others took it as a betrayal qualifying it as a little less than a sale.

Now, Techcrunch publishes an interview that we reproduce in its entirety in which Comex gives answers to many of the questions about its motivations, its opinion about Apple’s policies, the secrets of the scene jailbreak and the possible future of it. It is not wasted, word. We begin…

The creator of JailbreakMe talks about his “switch to Apple
The creator of JailbreakMe talks about his “switch to Apple

Did you make money with the scene jailbreak?

Comex: I have raised a good amount of money through donations that I have used mostly to pay for college. With JailbreakMe 2.0 I got 40,000 dollars while with 3.0 I got 15,000 dollars (I’m not sure why they decreased).

Will you still be working for the jailbreak community looking for exploits when you finish your internship at Apple?

Comex: No. But I would like to jailbreak my phone so I hope someone finds them :p (Note: this is probably due to the legal agreements that every Apple employee must sign)

Why an internship? Looks like you could get a permanent position at Apple.

Comex: I don’t know if I’d like to do that. I’ve never had a job before, I don’t know what it’s like, and besides I intend to go back to college soon.

How have your colleagues in the different jailbreak groups responded to your departure to work at Apple?

Comex: With congratulations for the most part.

Do you think the other active players will be able to outwit you now that you play on the other team or are you Apple’s final solution for the jailbreak?

Comex: There are a lot of smart people working for Apple already; maybe I can help, but I doubt I can stop people from finding exploits.

What do you think about Apple “stealing” ideas from the homebrew community (multitasking, notifications or even the App Store)

Comex: Not something I care about. The homebrew community puts an idea in front of people with a disgusting implementation; Apple polishes it up to the point of making it an iOS feature. I don’t know if Apple really pays attention to apps for devices with jailbreak, but look at the App Store, copy and paste, multitasking…

Why did you choose to get involved in the jailbreak scene? What attracted you to the iPhone?

Comex: I had one… and it was a device that a) had a lot of features, b) has a good and flexible Unix-based operating system, c) already had an active homebrew community and d) was really cool :p

Did you always want to be a hacker or was it just something that interested you and you found that you had a gift for it?

Comex: I never pretended to be a black hat hacker (the bad guy) but I enjoy hacking (initially injecting SQL code and stuff) as a natural extension of programming.

Where did you get the brilliant idea of the PDF bug used in

Comex: FreeType was one of the least studied open source components of iOS.

Are you optimistic about the future of the iOS platform? What features would you like to see implemented?

Comex: My personal opinion is that they will probably continue to kick their performance competitors’ asses for a while, and Apple’s “take your time but do it right” policy about new features will continue to make it a delight. But I’m impatient: other platforms (WebOS) have a lot of fun stuff without a real iOS equivalent.

Do you have any regrets?

Comex: I should have worked on the jailbreaks more consistently by throwing them faster. I have had several exploits that I could have taken advantage of if I had been faster in making them available to users.

Will JailbreakMe disappear?

Comex: No, I’m going to hand it over to MuscleNerd, chpwn or someone else to take care of it.

What do you think about Steve Jobs’ retirement as Apple’s CEO?

Comex: It’s a real shame. I was hoping to meet him someday and, leaving aside the company management, the Keynotes won’t be as much fun without him.

Besides the money, what made you change sides?

Comex: It’s not about the money. A big part of my motivation for doing jailbreaks was always that they were a challenge; my internship at Apple will be a new kind of challenge.

What do you like the least about the jailbreak scene?

Comex: Piracy certainly sucks and I also don’t like the drama around the jailbreak and the competition between different groups. (…) There are certain people who refuse to work with other specific people and this has led to some moments of tension (greenpois0n vs limera1n) holding back some progress, but I also think that most of the time relationships are calmer than they seem from the outside.

Do you think there is a good reason behind the restrictions that prevent the jailbreak in terms of security and user experience? Does this raise any issues for you? Do you think you will have any chance to influence apple policies on this issue?


The ugliest of Apple’s restrictions, such as section 3.3.1 of the Developer Agreement (prohibiting applications developed with Flash CS5 or MonoTouch) and the IAP digital subscription model (the application-based shopping API), are generally cases where developers have been tightened to the benefit of the user. But even so, there are still many, many legitimate cases that can currently only be addressed by the jailbreak. So yes, I am in the middle of a thought conflict but as I said, I doubt that from my position I can influence Apple’s policies.

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