North Korea goes OSX-like with new operating system

The latest version of the software dumps a Windows-like interface for a Mac-style desktop

The desktop set-up screen in Red Star Linux 3.0

The desktop set-up screen in Red Star Linux 3.0

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, might the folks in Cupertino be pleased when they see the latest version of North Korea's home-grown operating system?

Version 3.0 of Red Star Linux presents users with a radical refresh of its desktop design, one that closely resembles Mac OS X. The new look replaces the Windows 7-like desktop that was used in version 2.0 of the software.

The Korea Computer Center (KCC), a major software development center in Pyongyang, began developing Red Star about a decade ago. Version 2 is 3 years old and version 3 appears to have been released in the middle of last year.

The world has gotten its first look at version 3 thanks to Will Scott, a computer scientist who recently spent a semester teaching at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST). The school is North Korea's first foreign-funded university and many of the lecturers come from overseas.

Scott said he bought the operating system at a KCC dealer in the capital city and the screenshots he provided were of the basic version 3 software without any modifications.

While most North Koreans are restricted from accessing the Internet, many can get access to a nationwide intranet through universities and public libraries. The intranet offers websites for domestic institutions and is heavily skewed towards offering information, educational materials such as PDF versions of books and scientific papers, and government propaganda.

Red Star Linux includes a web browser based on Mozilla that has been re-branded "Naenara," or "My country."

It also includes a copy of Wine, a Linux application that provides an environment under which Windows software can be run.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Tags Korea Computer CenterLinuxsoftwareoperating systems

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14 Comments

Francois

1

"The intranet offers websites for domestic institutions and is heavily skewed towards offering information, educational materials such as PDF versions of books and scientific papers, and government propaganda" unlike the 'Western' internet which is heavily skewed towards pornography and people behaving badly.

Kenneth J. DeVries

2

It looks to me like they went with Xfce or Gnome, which are OSX styled, for the desktop instead of KDE which is more Windows styled. So, if anybody is imitating anybody it's the free-world Linux developers who regrettably can't seem to think outside of the corporate desktop except in the rare case of distros like JoliOS.

puffen

3

The thing here is that with Linux, you can make the UI look like anything you want. It's a freedom that North Koreans have discovered.

RMG

4

Kim Jong Un is alsmost as tyrannical as Steve Jobs was, so go fugure....lol

Dave Lane

5

Ironic but telling that N Korea has adopted the only freedom-enhancing computing platform of note out there on which to build their computing infrastructure.
Interestingly, Kenneth, I note that the Linux desktops are so powerful that anyone can create a virtual work-alike of any desktop they've got the lack of imagination to copy. That said, they could create infinitely many other desktops, too. Unlike the proprietary world where $$ spent on marketing typically dictates success, in the FOSS-world (which is most of the IT world nowadays), the forces of natural selection are cruel but fair. That's why FOSS has done an end-run around the small number of heavily marketed proprietary technologies which still exist in islands of non-innovation like the corporate desktop and the home computer. FOSS has already out-competed proprietary software in many other and more rapidly growing sectors of the IT world (e.g. HPC, mobile, embedded, the web), and good on N Korea for recognising its strength and flexibility. Perhaps they'll be the next powerhouse of innovation, given that the US has hobbled Silicon Valley with "strong IP" measures that have killed real innovation in that country.

Bob

6

I wouldn't call linux "freedom enhancing" I've ran five different distros and found experience was above all, very restrictive and limited. I have also found most users of it to be intolerant and rabid. Maybe Steam will have some luck tearing it from the freetards paranoid grasp but I think I'll stick with FreeBSD and MacOS.

Dave Lane

7

Bob, perhaps it's just an attitude issue? I haven't experienced any of those limitations you describe. Quite the reverse actually. Many don't realise the degree to which they're squandering their own liberty. Seems to be a common theme in our society at the moment (thinking of the TPPA, for instance).

NOTRahmEmanuel

8

@Bob

'Rabid'? 'Intolerant'?

Maybe, but they've got nothing on the cranks who inhabit Apple's help forum and other Mac fan-sites.
.

Sd

9

Dave lane freetard strikes again. Yes Linux has been so great in liberating the washed masses from our imperial overlords. Sorry FOSS is not paramount in huge corporate it world and has not out competed anyone except Symbian in the mobile world. iOS users use apps and the web than freetards, and makes more money. Facts are no substitute for religion.
Sent from an eeeeeeeeeeevil iPad cause it just works! Always!

sag47

10

Wow... the comments in this section are just... wow. So much misinformation. Great to see the term freetard hasn't died yet. Yes, talk about any software that didn't come on your Dell or Apple automatically makes you a freetard....

I'll say this, in the server market Linux dominates... by the way Sd... did you know that iOS is based from open source software... Go ahead and open up the license information in the about page of your iPad. I'll wait :).

You'll find the BSD license, Apache License, and even the GNU GPL stuffed in there. Yeah, your "just works" iPad is using FOSS inside. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not.

sag47

11

Also, I'd like to mention many of the "innovative" and "reinvented" concepts you get exposed to commercially by the big boys with marketing budgets have usually been implemented in the Linux ecosystem for years. Who is copying who I wonder?

nephew kim

12

stick to the subject or else

sd

13

sag47- I fully understand the input of FOSS into iOS and the commensurate give back by apple to the fOSS community. A rational, well structured approach to improving a product. But the core and largest part by LOC of iOS is a proprietary kernel and frameworks, not FOSS.
I'm having a dig at the freetards view that FOSS is everything' will always win, and is superior in all ways to other solutions.
Just not true. Witness the 'success' of Linux on the desktop.
And before you raise it, Android is not fully FOSS - lots of stolen stuff.

Dave Lane

14

@sd, I wear your freetard label with pride. I speaks more to your thought processes than to mine. The main reason I'm happy to point out all of the FOSS wins is because... someone should. They're worth celebrating... because they generally happen for the right reasons.

With FOSS, unlike Microsoft, Apple, Google, HP, etc. there's no $billion marketing budget nor an army of lawyers ready to descend on any potential slander nor alleged "IP infringement". So I just do my part to use forums like this to point out that you don't need a monopoly to produce brilliant software (I'd argue you can't produce innovative software *with* a monopoly), but you do need one to put your small and squishy brand in front of every person on TV, in the print media, and online every day. Similarly, you need those things to get exclusive distribution contracts with all the major computer vendors which effectively preclude the installation of anything *but* a particular monopoly operating system.

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