North Korea often has an unfair reputation as lacking the technology of the West, but like everything with North Korea, the truth is usually a little bit more complex. We’ve previously reviewed the Arirang Smartphone and the Samjiyon Tablet. Today we’re going to look at the home-grown North Korean operating system: Red Star Linux.
Generally speaking, most of the computers that you see in North Korea tend be running on Windows – at least the ones I’ve seen, anyway – but North Korea has been heavily involved in creating its own flavour of Linux.
Work on Red Star Linux first began in 1998 by the Korean Computer Centre. Before its release most computers either ran Windows or Red Hat Linux. Red Star Linux was designed to be in the (North) Korean language and adapted for the nuances of North Korea.
Red Star OS runs a modified version of Mozilla known as Naenara, which literally means “my country”. It is used to connect to the North Korean Intranet, known as Kwangmyong. It also has a locally-based e-mail client, an office suite, and even supports video games.
The latest version Red Star OS, version 3.0, is alleged to have taken its influence from Mac OS, with the look being more than a little similar. When you consider the leaders of the country are known Mac users, this theory is well-founded.
The system is (at least technically) only available in North Korea, although foreigners have been known to purchase the OS and a few copies have been not only reviewed, but bootlegged versions have even been downloaded. Torrenters beware, however: it is apparently very prone to hacking.
That’s our Made in the DPRK review of Red Star OS! Keep following the series to learn about the many different products of North Korea.
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