North Korea’s Official Operating System Rips Off OS X

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North Korea is a bizarre place, in which DPRK dictatorship denies its population any interaction with the West, even as the government’s elite drinks Cristal with Dennis Rodman. In such a regime, you might not be surprised to know that there’s not a lot of Mac users.

However, the North Korean government has released its own operating system, and the latest version looks decidedly familiar. It’s basically a Linux distro skinned to look like OS X!

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Released in the middle of last year, Red Star Linux is the official operating system of the DPRK. Created by the Korea Computer Center out of Pyongyang, the operating system is about ten years old, but previous versions looked decidedly Windows-like. That’s all changed now, with Red Star Linux 3.0 boasting a decidedly Mac-like look.

Since nothing leaks easily out of North Korea, PC World has some interesting background on how the screenshots of the operating system got out of the country:

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.

The Mac is so popular right now that they want their operating system to look like it even in North Korea. Pretty much says everything about Apple’s global success, doesn’t it?

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  • MrsCleaver

    At least they imitate the best.

  • lwdesign1

    Actually the red, yellow and green buttons at the top left of every window are round cornered squares, not circles, so it’s not really copying the interface… Like the rest of the technology manufacturers in the world, North Korea doesn’t have any of their own good ideas either, so they have to copy Apple. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if other companies came out with great ideas that Apple could copy?

  • thomsonr

    They must of disliked Windows 8 as much as I did.

  • HowmaNoid

    Seems like “ripping off” is a thing in Korea in general.

  • HowmaNoid

    Actually the red, yellow and green buttons at the top left of every window are round cornered squares, not circles, so it’s not really copying the interface… Like the rest of the technology manufacturers in the world, North Korea doesn’t have any of their own good ideas either, so they have to copy Apple. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if other companies came out with great ideas that Apple could copy?

    Red X, Yellow down arrow, green up arrow. How hard can it be? Maybe there’s a consulting oppo here? What’s Korea’s phone number? ;)

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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