Slipstream, a user on the anonymous text forum Pastebin who gloats of "pulling data out of North Korea's ass since 2014," has gifted the world a very special torrent delicacy: The newest version of RedStar OS 3.0, North Korea's mysterious desktop operating system, was made available for download a few days ago.
The Linux-based operating system is the exclusive software weapon of choice with which the People's Republic attempts to make itself even more independent of the imperialist rest-of-the-world. Albeit the North Korean operating system has yet to reach many users, both domestically (in the absence of computer ubiquity) and internationally (because of the strict export and tourism restrictions).
the boot jingle is a popular, Korean folksong
Thanks to the torrent download redstar_desktop3.0_sign.iso (a torrent client is recommended for loading the file), the operating system is now available worldwide in all its beauty, grassroots-democratically distributed, as it should be. An inclined user will not only receive an astounding Apple OS X clone with the 2.6 gigabyte download, he or she will also be rewarded with dazzling set of wallpapers:
If you've got a virtual machine to play on and a bit of courage, you can download the Linux-based operating system now and test it out yourself.
Korean friends will definitely be helpful, since the system is only available in the syllabary Hangul alphabet. It comes with an installer guide, as launching the system for a Western user won't come without problems. What's simple is the authentication. If you're asked to provide a serial number, just make one up.
The first screenshots of this operating system appeared in fall 2013, after former Google employee and IT expert, Will Scott, had the opportunity to teach computer science for a few months at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology as part of his graduate studies.
North Korean students used to use official Windows software, but since the country—at least, this is what Will's students tell their teacher—finds itself at war with America, they developed their own operating system, RedStar 3, which closely resembles Apple's Mac OS X in terms of design, but actually constitutes a relatively-stable, modified Linux version.
In his lecture at 31C3, Will reports that, in his opinion, RedStar 3 isn't at all widely distributed for personal use. He saw Windows 7 in action much more frequently. He assumes that RedStar is used prevalently in the industrial sector. RedStar OS isn't even readily available in North Korea, Will reports. Both software and electronics were only available for him as a foreigner at a specific, irregularly-occurring market in a shopping center in Pyongyang.
There are, however, a few differences compared with Mac OSX: Mail is called "carrier pigeon," there are preinstalled games, the boot jingle is a popular Korean folksong, and the retail price is also adjusted for the country's spending power—you can get a copy of the system for less than five bucks.
How else does IT work in North Korea feel? We'll show you here:
This is what RedStar looks like when booting up:
Welcome Will! The login screen, word processor and mail client definitely seem to be inspired by Mac OSX.
Damn! South Korea is not an option; Seoul has been removed from the available timezones.
The standard browser is called "Naenara" and is a heavily modified variation of Mozilla's Firefox.
Ready to defend the nation: This picturesque drawing is called "Snow at the Baksol Outpost" and is one of eight wallpapers to choose from with scenes of Korean landscapes.
Here are two more, no less pictorial, preinstalled background screens from a set called "eight scenes from the Sudong period."
And if nothing else works: Just as a precaution, Windows 3.0 can also be started with the operating system.
This article was translated from Motherboard Germany.