Jay Freeman (saurik) Clears Up Questions About Cydia

With the upcoming release of Cydia 1.1 comes many questions about the update, including qualms from users about what they feel Cydia may be lacking. To these questions and gripes, Jay Freeman(saurik), the creator and manager of Cydia, released a long and explicit reply. Among those questions were ones like “when will Cydia get multitasking support?” More questions, and their subsequent answers, following the break.


Multitasking in Cydia: Why it’s not here.

Q: “Multitasking is a must and not having it is rather pathetic especially since iOS 4 has been out 8 months.”

A: “This is simply not possible at this time. I realize everyone wants it, and hell: I want it, too; but everyone saying it is important doesn’t make it possible. The reason Cydia doesn’t have iOS 4 compliant multi-tasking is that, to make the modifications it makes to the system, it runs as “root”, a user that has more permissions on the system than anything else, which means that SpringBoard, a lowly process running as “mobile”, cannot suspend/resume it.”

Overview: Basically, with the way Cydia is set up now, it has more permissions than the Springboard itself, which means that the Springboard can’t affect it’s processes. In order for Cydia to support the native iOS multitasking, it would need a drastic change. Freeman says he has found a few ways to go about this, but that they certainly wouldn’t be ready for this release.

Why Mobile Substrate can’t run while Cydia runs

Q: “The ability to leave mobile substrate on when using Cydia. I understand it’s to reduce intstalling app conflicts but not having access to SBSettings is a pain especially since Cydia doesn’t multitask yet! BOO.”

A: “If you did this you would find your system would suddenly become unusable. I realize that it sounds all nice and fuzzy that Mobile Substrate should modify all applications on the system, including Cydia, but again: Cydia runs as root. Almost all extensions in the ecosystem are NOT designed with this in mind, and when suddenly given root access start destroying the permissions of your configuration files and Media folders, making all normal applications unable to use them.

Therefore, with this release of Cydia, I’ve gone through the “big ticket items”–which seem to come down to Activator (what starts SBSettings), libstatusbar (adds notification items to the status bar), and SimulatedKeyEvents (injection of key events from Veency)–to verify with their developers that they will work correctly in an environment running as root. These extensions (plus WinterBoard, which doesn’t work on root on 4.x but is harmless, and will be fixed in a future release) are what are available from inside of Cydia until Cydia is modified to run as mobile.”

Overview: Running something like Mobile Substrate, which isn’t designed to run as root, as root would be similar to putting a mad bull inside an antique store: unmitigated disaster. All your regular apps could stop working completely.

A “better” interface and backup options

Q: “I for one can’t wait for a better looking interface. And a auto back up function would be great. Keep up the good work. Can’t wait to see it”

A: “A backup function actually does not require pushing a new build of Cydia, but it requires time to figure out how to scale the users to support the kind of load Cydia has. Cydia is running with many orders of magnitudes more users than any of its competitors have, which means that a lot of things that people like to think “should be simple, X did it” are actually much harder to implement…As for a ‘better looking interface’, I try hard to maintain something that competes with Apple’s products. A few things rotted on 4.x…but otherwise the main problem users have with Cydia is not Cydia: it is with repositories.”

Overview: Freeman agrees that there are problems, but they’re the kind he can’t solve. Most problems are with specific repos, and as such problems should be reported to them. Cydia is really just a big hub that collects user data and puts it all in one place.

What about the repos that don’t install correctly?

Q: “In regard to stability, it would be nice if Cydia had a solution for repos or apps that didn’t add correctly, instead of just having endless errors popping up. These fixes alone, to me would be more beneficial than a new redesign to Cydia’s layout or other cosmetic changes.”

A: “With regards to repositories that did not add correctly, as stated by Ryan Petrich, Cydia 1.1 should no longer end up in situations where broken repositories are so unusable that they are also undeletable. That said, many users complain about repositories installed via a package: to delete these repositories you will need to remove the package that represents them.”

Overview: If you’ve had a problem installing a repo in the past, these will no longer be an issue in Cydia 1.1.

You can view even more responses and the original comment here.

About the Author

I am a technology enthusiast who's first major computer experience was with hacking the Sony PSP. I am an Apple Dev, and I'm currently studying Computer Programming and 3D Animation.