SSH: A Jailbroken Treasure

SSHWhat do some Android users say about jailbreaking an Apple device? They may concede that it gets you Cydia, and access to some really awesome tweaks, but they tend to bleat that it doesn’t allow you much more.

But that’s not true. There are, like in the Android development community, a dedicated and somewhat scary bunch of people who like to really tinker with the iOS file system as much as humanely possible. To do this, they and others utilize the network protocol known as SSH. 

In the tech world, it’s really called Secure File Transfer Protocol, or SFTP for short. Remember those words, because you will be using them a lot. But mostly, you’ll just stick to the SFTP acronym like glue. While most people in the iOS development community refer to it as SSH, every client you use on your computer refers to it as the former. So, as I said — and I can’t say it enough — get used to saying and remembering SFTP.

SFTP allows you to remotely login to your jailbroken iPhone, iPad or iPod touch’s file system and install third-party applications, tweaks, mods and utilities to your device, without having to deal with iTunes or anything else remotely related to Apple. First, you’ll need a client:

Not a single one of those applications is affiliated with Apple in the slightest.

Now, I’m slightly biased in saying that I favor Cyberduck over any of those three choices, having used the lot for almost five years. Cyberduck is the easiest, cleanest and fastest SFTP client. Cyberduck’s general implementation of the protocol is better, and you can see that lots of thought has been put into the UI, allowing even the simplest of simpletons to use the app to its full functionality.

By now, you’re either skipping over this wondering when I’ll shut up, so I’ll cut to the chase.

To login via an SFTP client to your Jailbroken iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You need to do the following.

  • Connect to your local WiFi Network.
  • Navigate to Settings > WiFi > Network_Name.
  • Jot down your IP Address. It’s usually similar to localhost (i.e. 192.168.X.X)
  • Open up your SFTP client, and start a new connection.
  • To start the connection, input the IP Address in the ‘Address’ field. As for the Port, stick with “22″ (without quotes).
  • For the username: “root” (without the quotes).
  • Password: “alpine” (without quotes).
  • Path: “/” (without quotes).

The word “alpine” is the default SSH — yes, SFTP — password that every iOS device ships with.

If you change the SFTP password for security reasons, ensure you write it down and save it to your Keychain (OS X) or the password-y save-y place thing you put stuff like that on Windows. The only way to recover the password back to “alpine” is to restore your device using iTunes.

Congratulations, if you followed the steps correctly, you have successfully logged into iOS via SFTP. From here, you can navigate to the themes folder, the applications folder or so many other places within the file system. Have fun! But don’t forget to disconnect before you leave the house.

This is a guest post written by iFans forum member cocotutch, and edited by Joe Rossignol.

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