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What does it mean to "jailbreak" an electronic device? Answered

I see a lot of people talking about jailbreaking their iPhone/Droid/MP3. What does this mean? I'm curious


"Jailbreaking" is a slang term for opening up the software protection on the device to permit installing unauthorized software modifications.

Y'know, I was hesitant about introducing the +1 convention to Instructables, but it seems the community likes it. (Or at least the most frequent answerers do.)

I suppose I should give credit: I swiped it from Apache's development mailing lists. I'm not sure who first introduced it there.

I would like to see (and have requested many times) a community thumbs up/down for all comments/answers. Of course you'd need a certain calculable reputation to be able to access it to prevent abuse, but if a question becomes a month old and its got 3 answers and one is full of thumbs...problem solved :D

Whups. Wrong antecedent for "it", and Instructables isn't accepting my delete request. Sigh.

Jailbreak is a term specifically used for Apple devices, since Steve Jobs declared it a violation of the laws of Appledom to not purchase everything so that Apple gets a tithe. The rest of the world uses a more common term, which is "install"