North Korea's Red Star Linux OS: Made in Apple's Image?

North Korea's Red Star Linux OS: Made in Apple's Image?

Red Star OS, the open source operating system from North Korea that is based on Linux and the KDE desktop environment, has started looking more like Apple's OS X.

Most of the recent headlines involving North Korea and computers have centered on whether the former was behind attacks against Sony. Here's another fact about technology in North Korea that has been subject to less attention: The country has its own, home-grown Linux distribution, called Red Star OS, which happens to look a lot like Apple's OS X.

That's the takeaway from screenshots of Red Star OS 3.0 that recently posted. Here are a couple of samples:

Note the Mac-y icons, color scheme, fonts and interface layout—with a toolbar at the top of the screen and a dock underneath. All of that stands in contrast to the previous version of Red Star OS, which looks a lot more like Windows XP, or, even more, a basic KDE desktop. Apparently Kim Jong Un is not alone among his countrymen in his passion for Macs.

That's no surprise, since both instances of Red Star OS are based on KDE, the open source desktop interface that is widely used on Linux distributions. But the newer version, besides running a more recent release of KDE, also shows signs of some tweaking designed to make it look a lot like OS X.

If there's a lesson here, it's that even in North Korea, Apple's interface appeals, at least presumably. (Wikipedia says Red Star OS 2.0 currently remains more popular than its successor, but it's not clear whether that's because of the interface or other reasons.) Violent cinematic depictions of assassinations notwithstanding, perhaps North Koreans and Westerners are not so different after all.

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