'usbmuxd' stands for "USB multiplexing daemon". This daemon is in charge of
multiplexing connections over USB to an iPhone or iPod touch. To users, it means
you can sync your music, contacts, photos, etc. over USB. To developers, it
means you can connect to any listening localhost socket on the device. usbmuxd
is not used for tethering data transfer, which uses a dedicated USB interface as
a virtual network device.
Multiple connections to different TCP ports can happen in parallel. An example
(and useful) tool called 'iproxy' is included that allows you to forward
localhost ports to the device---allows SSH over USB on jailbroken devices, or
allowing access the lockdown daemon (and then to all of the file access, sync,
notification and backup services running on the device).
The higher-level layers are handled by libimobiledevice. 'ifuse' is then able
to sit on top of this and mount your device's AFC filesystem share.
There is also a Python implementation of the client library in the python-client
library, and an example tcprelay.py which performs a similar function to iproxy.
This implementation supports OSX and Windows and the new iTunes plist-based
usbmuxd protocol, so it is portable and will run on those operating systems with
no modification, using Apple's native usbmuxd. This is useful if you need to
tunnel to your device from another OS in a pinch. Run python tcpclient.py --help
for usage information.
The contents of this package are licensed under the GNU General Public License,
versions 2 or 3 (see COPYING.GPLv2 and COPYING.GPLv3), except for libuxbmuxd
which is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License, version 2.1 or,
at your option, any later version (see COPYING.LGPLv2.1). If a more permissive
license is specified at the top of a source file, it takes precedence over this.
Apple, iPhone, and iPod touch are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the
U.S. and other countries.
sudo make install
You should also create a 'usbmux' user that has access to USB devices on your
system. Alternatively, you can pass a different username after the -U argument.
Running (with magic)
(Unplug + replug your jailbroken device)
./iproxy 2222 22 &
ssh -p 2222 root@localhost
Hopefully you get the normal SSH login prompt. You may still lots of debugging
output for the moment. If this is getting in the way of your ssh login, then
run the 'ssh' command from a different xterminal or virtual console. Of course,
you need to have OpenSSH installed on your jailbroken device for this to work.
If you have iFuse, you can run "ifuse <mountpoint">. This doesn't require
iproxy and works on all devices, jailbroken or not.
Running (without magic)
If 'udev' is _not_ automatically running on your machine and picking up the new
.rules file, you will need to start usbmuxd by hand first. Check it's running
and that there is only one copy with 'ps aux | grep
sudo usbmuxd -U -v -v &
./iproxy 2222 22 &
ssh -p 2222 root@localhost
Tip: Starting SSH if disabled
If your device is rooted, but SSH isn't started and you _cannot_ (for instance,
cracked/broken screen) get to the Services control panel on the device, then you
can start the SSH service over the USB by mounting the (jailbroken) filesystem.
You will need to mount it using 'ifuse --afc2' (to access the root directory of
the device), and then edit:
to _remove_ the lines:
Reboot the device and then sshd should be running.
The server currently assumes that the device is well-behaved and does not do a
bunch of checks like looking for the expected SEQ and ACK numbers from it. This
is normally not an issue, but it's annoying for debugging because lost packets
(which shouldn't happen, but can happen if the code is buggy) mean that stuff
gets out of sync and then might crash and burn dozens of packets later.
The server needs more testing, and some optimizing.
Someone should probably do some edge-case testing on the TCP stuff.
The outgoing ACK handling on the server probably needs some thought. Currently,
when there's an outstanding ACK, we send it after a timeout (to avoid sending
a no-payload ACK packet for everything the phone sends us). However, there's
probably a better way of doing this.
The iPhone / iPod Touch basically implements a rather strange USB networking
system that operates at a higher level. It is of course completely proprietary.
Generally speaking, this is what goes on in a typical usage scenario:
0. iTunes opens a connection to usbmuxd and asks it for device notifications
1. User inserts phone into computer
2. usbmuxd notices the phone and pings it with a version packet
3. phone replies
4. usbmuxd now considers the phone to be connected and tells iTunes
5. iTunes opens another separate connection to usbmuxd and asks it to connect
to, say, the afc port on the device
6. usbmuxd sends a pseudo-TCP SYN packet to the phone
7. the phone's kernel driver receives the SYN packet and itself opens a
TCP connection to localhost on the afc port
8. the phone replies with a pseudo-TCP SYN/ACK indicating that the port is open
and the connection can proceed
7. usbmuxd sends a final ACK to the phone
8. usbmuxd replies to iTunes with a "connection successful" message
9. any data that iTunes writes to the usbmuxd socket from now on is forwarded,
through pseudo-TCP, through USB, back into a more regular TCP connection to
localhost, to the afc daemon on the phone, and vice versa
The usbmuxd protocol is a relatively simple binary message protocol documented
Note that once a connection is established the UNIX socket essentially becomes
a dedicated pipe to the TCP connction and no more high-level control is
possible (closing the socket closes the TCP connection). Ditto for the "listen
for devices" mode - usbmuxd will reject any commands in such mode, and the
socket essentially becomes a dedicated device notification pipe. This means
that you need, at minimum, TWO connections to usbmuxd to do anything useful.
On Windows, usbmuxd works the same way but a TCP connection to localhost port
27015 replaces the UNIX socket. On OSX, the UNIX socket is /var/run/usbmuxd. The
server and client implemented here default the same /var/run/usbmuxd socket.
The phone protocol operates over a pair of USB bulk endpoints. There is an outer
layer used for packet size info and a "protocol" (version and TCP are the only
two options), and that header is followed by TCP headers for actual data comms.
However, the protocol isn't actual TCP, just a custom protocol which for some
reason uses a standard TCP header and leaves most fields unused.
There is no reordering or retransmission. There are no checksums, no URG, no
PSH, no non-ACK, no FIN. What there *is* is the SEQ/ACK/window mechanism used
for flow control, and RST is used as the only connection teardown mechanism (and
also for "connection refused"), and the connection startup is SYN/SYNACK/ACK.
Windows are constant-scaled by 8 bits. This is legal TCP as long as the
corresponding option is negotiated. Of course, no such negotiation happens on
Note that, since there are no retransmissions, there is some overlap between ACK
and window for flow control. For example, the server doesn't ever touch its
window size, and just refuses to ACK stuff if its buffers are full and the
client isn't reading data. The phone happily seems to stop sending stuff.
Also, if the phone RSTs you out of nowhere, look at the packet payload for a
textual error message. Note: if it claims to suffer from amnesia, that probably
means you overflowed its input buffer by ignoring its flow control / window
size. Go figure. Probably a logic bug in the kernel code.
Note that all normal packets need to have flags set to ACK (and only ACK). There
is no support for, erm, not-acking. Keep the ack number field valid at all
The usbmuxd CONNECT request port field is byte-swapped (network-endian). This is
even more annoying for the plist based protocol, since it's even true there
(where the field is plain text). So even for the plain text int, you need to
swap the bytes (port 22 becomes <integer>5632</integer>). I have no clue if this
is the case on the new plist protocol on PPC macs (is the newer iTunes available
There are a bunch of gotchas due to the USB framing, and this is even worse
because implementations tend to get it wrong (i.e. libusb, and this is the
reason for the patch). Basically, USB Bulk offers, at the low level, the ability
to transfer packets from 0 to wMaxPacketSize (512 here) bytes, period. There is
no other support for higher level framing of transfers. The way you do those is
by breaking them up into packets, and the final shorter packet marks the end of
the transfer. The critical bit is that, if the transfer happens to be divisible
by 512, you send a zero-length packet (ZLP) to indicate the end of the transfer.
Libusb doesn't set this option by default and the iPhone gets packets stuck to
each other, which it doesn't like. Actually, this framing is sort of redundant
because the usbmux packet header includes a length field, but the phone still
wants the ZLPs or else it breaks. To make matters worse, usbdevfs imposes a max
transfer size of 16k, so libusb breaks transfers into that size. This is okay
for sending as long as the ZLP is only added to the last transfer (the patch
does that), but it can easily cause nasty race conditions on RX due to libusb
doing multiple outstanding reads at the same time and then cancelling the rest
when shorter data arrives (but what if some data got into the other requests
already?), so we only do 16k reads and stick them together ourselves by looking
at the packet size header. We still depend on ZLPs being sent to end transfers
at non-16k boundaries that are multiples of 512, but that seems to work fine. I
guess the ZLPs might cause spurious 0-byte transfers to show up on RX if things
line up right, but we ignore those. By the way, the maximum packet/transfer size
is 65535 bytes due to the 16-bit length header of the usbmux protocol.