North Korea Linux details revealed
North Korea is known as the "hermit kindgom" for its isolation from the rest of the world. But the country has also been known to be developing its own version of Linux. More details have been revealed about North Korea's operating system in a report from The Guardian:
North Korea’s homegrown computer operating system mirrors its political one – marked by a high degree of paranoia and invasive snooping on users, according to two German researchers. Their investigation, the deepest yet into the country’s Red Star OS, illustrates the challenges Pyongyang faces in trying to embrace the benefits of computing and the internet while keeping a tight grip on ideas and culture.
North Korea, whose rudimentary intranet system does not connect to the world wide web, but allows access to state media and some officially approved sites, has been developing its own operating system for more than a decade.
This latest version, written around 2013, is based on a version of Linux called Fedora and has eschewed the previous version’s Windows XP feel for Apple’s OSX – perhaps a nod to the country’s leader Kim Jong-un who, like his father, has been photographed near Macs.
But under the bonnet there’s a lot that is unique, including its own version of encrypting files. “This is a full blown operation system where they control most of the code,” Grunow said. The researchers say this suggests North Korea wants to avoid any code that might be compromised by intelligence agencies.
The was also an interesting YouTube video that shows what North Korea's Red Star OS is like:
As you might imagine, The Guardian's report about North Korea's operating system spawned a thread on the Linux subreddit. Here's a sampling of comments from that thread:
Pest15: ”I know it's fun to point fingers at NK's paranoia, but let's be honest for a moment: is Red Star OS really more invasive than what the NSA is doing? REALLY? Give me a break. Only in his dreams could "Dear Leader" have the kind of mass surveillance that is being constructed in some Western countries.”
BurningFox: ”Well, openly controlling a smaller group of people (North Korean hardware and software manufacturers, importers and users) is way easier than surreptitiously controlling a large group of people. After all, your computer doesn't watermark every file on it, does it?”
Whargarbl135: ”Something worth nothing is that North Korea is totally cool with sending dissidents to gulags, while we're still only afraid of the NSA because of what they might hypothetically use the data for. I'd rather be spied on by the NSA than the DPRK.”
DaGranite: ”You don't keep up. Police organizations "reconstruct" evidence from the NSA and other organizations to arrest people and send them to prison. The original covert evidence or even its existence is never known to the defendant and therefore can never be properly defended against. ”
Jones_supa: ”NK has plenty of modern computers available, which seem to be mostly Dell workstations.
The country is connected to Internet, although with a rather crusty link. Only VIPs have access to the global Internet from within NK. General population has access only to the intranet, which provides good amount of useful information resources, but also plenty of propaganda.
There are some public websites that you can visit, for example a nice cooking site cooks.org.kp. :) More can be found by digging around in the .kp top-level domain.”