Building iBoot

Created on 14.07.18
Important note: this article discusses Apple internal software. This information is provided for educational purposes only. Also playing with low-level software directly may lead to a hardware damage. You have been warned
In February 2018 someone leaked Apple iBoot's source code to a general public. According to timestamps in files and various signs in the code (string obfuscation, missing support for anything older than A5, four PRODUCTS (LLB, iBoot, iBSS, iBEC) instead of two (iBootStage1, iBootStage2) like in iOS 10) we can freely affirm that this code belongs to some late iOS 9 build. More information about a story of the leak is available here

What can or cannot be built

For a pretty long time it has been known that the leak is incomplete and therefore it's impossible to build a working copy of iBoot from it. As far as I know, two security researchers on Twitter tried to do that. One of them, @xerub, actually managed to build bootloaders, but according to himself he simply re-created missing files. I highly doubt that a bootloader built in such way would actually work. Especially if we take on an account, that missing files are most likely related to a power management
I performed my own research and found out that:
  • iBoot for A5 targets (s5l8940x, s5l8942x, s5l8945x, s5l8947x) and s5l8747x (used in Haywire) can be built, but modifications are required in device_map (we'll talk about this later)
  • iBoot for A6 targets (both s5l8950x and s5l8955x) can be built
  • iBoot for A7 (s5l8960x), A8 (t7000, t7001), A9 (s8000, s8003, s8001), S1 (s7002) and S1P/S2 (t8002) targets can not be built due to a lot of missing headers
Also DEBUG-fused bootloaders don't work for some unobvious reason. There's a special technique to solve it, but it wasn't found by me, so I cannot share it


First step is pretty obvious:

cd iboot

Second one, however, isn't so obvious:


Let's define what it all means:
  • APPLICATIONS argument defines applications to be built, obviously. Valid values: iBoot, SecureROM (bootrom) and EmbeddedIOP (something loaded by kernel and situated in its cache)
  • TARGETS defines device models to be built for (without "ap"/"dev" part)
  • BUILDS defines BUILD_STYLEs to be built of. Valid values for iBoot application: RELEASE (just as normal iBoot supplied with IPSWs), DEVELOPMENT (untrusted image execution on Image3-compatible devices, amazing level of verbosity on newer versions and a lot of additional commands), DEBUG (same as DEVELOPMENT, but even more verbosity and even more additional commands) and SECRET (most likely just an easter egg, this build style isn't defined in device_map, so you can't build it)
For sure it won't work out of the box. You'll run into several problems. For environment I highly recommend to use OS X El Capitan with Xcode 7 installed. Higher SDKs should work too, lower are highly not recommended

Problem 1: missing SDK

Embedded mechanisms of finding a path to a SDK usually fail:

%%% building on OS darwin xcodebuild: error: SDK "iPhoneOS" cannot be located.
xcodebuild: error: SDK "ProductName" cannot be located.
xcodebuild: error: SDK "iPhoneOS" cannot be located.
xcodebuild: error: SDK "iPhoneOS" cannot be located.
Makefile:86: *** A path to a component of the SDK specifies a directory that does not exist (SDKROOT=). Stop.

This can easily be fixed by editing main makefile. In my case, for example, it's enough to set SDK_PLATFORM variable to "iOS 9.3"

Problem 2: missing executive permissions for tools

The next issue you might get is something looking like this:

make: execvp: ./tools/ Permission denied

This is because executive permissions were lost for everything in tools/ directory. Can easily be fixed:

sudo chmod +x tools/*

Problem 3: missing embedded_device_map

The next thing you'll have to do is to add embedded_device_map to /usr/local/bin or /usr/bin:

%%%%%% library_list iBoot
makefiles/ *** Cannot locate embedded_device_map - device map queries will fail.. Stop.
make: *** [library_list-iBoot] Error 2

embedded_device_map is a tiny shell script that makes queries from device_map.db. Very important thing. Can be found in HomeDiagnostics.pkg. This is internal stuff
It also wants image3maker and img4payload, but they aren't important

Problem 4: missing device_map.db

Obviously, embedded_device_map is useless without a database it will make queries from. If it's missing, you'll get quite unobvious messages:

%%%%%% library_list iBoot
apps/iBoot/ *** multiple target patterns. Stop.
make: *** [library_list-iBoot] Error 2

device_map.db can be found in HomeDiagnostics.pkg as well. You can find out where to put it by reading DEVICEMAP_DATABASE variable in makefiles/ or by trying to build SecureROM, it will print where it should be
device_map.db is SQLite 3 database that defines targets' properties (since most of them are useless for building iBoot, most likely it's used somewhere else. For example, there's plist version of it in Purple Restore) and which PRODUCTS of which BUILD_STYLEs can be built for it

Problem 5: unused variable

For 2nd-stage bootloaders there'll be error:

CC build/n41-iBEC-DEBUG/lib/macho/macho.o
lib/macho/macho.c:29:17: error: unused variable 'gkalsr_debug'

Solution is very easy: just remove or comment out this variable in lib/macho/macho.c

Problem 6: -lcompiler_rt-static

When everything is almost built, when it's time to assemble all components in a single image, this is what you'll get:

LD build/n42-iBEC-DEVELOPMENT/iBEC.sys using -L/Applications/ -lcompiler_rt-static ./build/lib-armv7-thumb-DEVELOPMENT/lib/libbuiltin/LIBBUILTIN.a
ld: warning: directory not found for option '-L/Applications/'
ld: library not found for -lcompiler_rt-static
clang: error: linker command failed with exit code 1 (use -v to see invocation)
make[2]: *** [build/n42-iBEC-DEVELOPMENT/iBEC.sys] Error 1
make[1]: *** [build-n42-iBEC-DEVELOPMENT] Error 2

This can be easily solved as well: just remove -lcompiler_rt-static flag from _RUNTIME_FLAGS variable in makefiles/
In the end, if everything's fine, you should see something like this:

STRIP build/n41-iBEC-DEBUG/iBEC.stripped
dSYM build/n41-iBEC-DEBUG/iBEC.sys.dSYM
SIZE build/n41-iBEC-DEBUG/iBEC.size
STRIP build/n42-iBEC-DEVELOPMENT/iBEC.stripped
STRIP build/n41-iBEC-DEVELOPMENT/iBEC.stripped
STRIP build/n42-iBEC-DEBUG/iBEC.stripped
dSYM build/n42-iBEC-DEBUG/iBEC.sys.dSYM
SIZE build/n42-iBEC-DEBUG/iBEC.size
__TEXT __DATA __OBJC others dec hex
380928 73728 0 0 454656 6f000
__TEXT __DATA __OBJC others dec hex
344064 73728 0 0 417792 66000
BIN build/n41-iBEC-DEBUG/iBEC.bin
__TEXT __DATA __OBJC others dec hex
344064 73728 0 0 417792 66000
0+0 records in
0+0 records out
0 bytes transferred in 0.000011 secs (0 bytes/sec)
0+0 records in
0+0 records out
0 bytes transferred in 0.000010 secs (0 bytes/sec)
0+0 records in
0+0 records out
0 bytes transferred in 0.000008 secs (0 bytes/sec)
__TEXT __DATA __OBJC others dec hex
380928 73728 0 0 454656 6f000
BIN build/n42-iBEC-DEBUG/iBEC.bin
0+0 records in
0+0 records out
0 bytes transferred in 0.000009 secs (0 bytes/sec)
348160+0 records in
348160+0 records out
348160 bytes transferred in 1.518022 secs (229351 bytes/sec)
348160+0 records in
348160+0 records out
348160 bytes transferred in 1.523777 secs (228485 bytes/sec)
385024+0 records in
385024+0 records out
385024 bytes transferred in 1.682545 secs (228834 bytes/sec)
385024+0 records in
385024+0 records out
385024 bytes transferred in 1.622805 secs (237258 bytes/sec)

In build/ directory you'll find sub-directories with your compiled iBoots. *.sys is non-stripped Mach-O, it's very nice in disassembler, since every function and even some variables have their native names. *.bin is a binary you can load on your device

Tweaking device_map.db to support A5 devices

As mentioned above, device_map.db is SQLite3 database. Its schema can easily be gotten using embedded_device_map:

embedded_device_map -db device_map.db -schema

As you can see, it consists of three TABLEs:
  • Targets is most important TABLE, defines properties of every supported device. There're a lot of properties, but only some of them seem to matter for building iBoot: Target, TargetType, Platform, ChipID, SecurityEpoch, CryptoHashMethod, ProductID (seems to be not important) and ImageFormat; look into makefiles/ to check. Duplicate one of the Targets or just take one of existing and fill up these properties with data. Every of them is public knowledge
  • Manifests TABLE defines manifestIds for devices from Targets
  • of manifestTypes (valid values are Debug, Development, Production, FactoryFA and VendorInstall). Replace Target property of some unimportant device with TargetType property of target you created in Targets table for every manifestType:
  • Files table defines manifests for files with specified manifestId. No need to touch it