What is Cydia?
If you’ve just used one of the new Pwnage options and now have a shiny new jailbroken iPhone running the 2.0 software, then you might be asking yourself, “What is Cydia?”
You might also be asking yourself, “Where is Installer?,” but rest assured it is coming soon. Until then, let’s explain Cydia.
Cydia was created by Jay Freeman (saurik), as an alternative to Installer. It took what Installer started and improved on it. It’s open source and gives developers much more flexibility when publishing their apps.
But why is Cydia on your SpringBoard and not Installer?
Well the 2.0 software introduces many changes to the developer’s toolchain, which means that applications written for 1.1.4 and below will not run on 2.0 firmware without being updated and recompiled. At the time PwnageTool was released, Installer itself had not been ported to the 2.0 software, and therefore cannot run on it yet.
Until the developers of Installer (RiP Dev) finish updating the application, it will not run on the new 2.0 iPhone/iPod Touch software. In the meantime, Cydia is your sole method of package installation.
Now you’re probably saying, “But Installer had so many more apps than Cydia.”
The reason there are so few apps (specifically games and customization utilities) in Cydia, is the same reason there is no Installer on the iPhone yet.
These apps haven’t been updated by the individual developers. Cydia will only display apps that can run on your iPhone, and as the individual developers update their apps, they will appear in Cydia as well, so check back frequently.
Apps are being updated on a daily, if not hourly, basis. My favorite app, the NES emulator, is already available. I mean, be honest, the only reason we jailbreak in the first place is to play Super Mario Bros., right?
Installer 4.0 appears to address many of the shortcomings of the original Installer.app, the very issues that sparked saurik to develop Cydia.
Some things the new Installer is said to include, according to RiP Dev, are ‘dependencies’. This means if an app requires another app or package to be installed, it will automatically download the other packages and install them (as long as they are available).
Installer 4.0 will also be fully multi-threaded, so now you can refresh sources, browse packages, and install packages all at the same time; no more waiting for the “refreshing sources” message at the bottom of the screen to go away (sometimes 10 or 15 minutes later).
But the largest improvement that Installer 4.0 will boast is using sqlite database. Previously it used PLIST files which had to be fully downloaded every time sources were refreshed. Some of these files were rather large (700kb to 1mb for larger sources), putting a strain on the webservers hosting the files. Now we just get information added or removed since our last refresh. This will also make searching and startup muchimproved.
Whether your preference is the new Installer 4.0 or Cydia, rest assured they will both play nicely together. Some developers will only package their apps in an Installer repository, and some will only put theirs in Cydia, and of course some will publish to both. No matter what the developer’s preference you will be able to run Cydia, Installer, and AppStore all on your iPhone with no problems.