North Korean Linux tips up

One would usually expect a news article beginning with the words “North Korea has reportedly developed its own…” to end with something of a nuclear bang, but while potentially explosive, this particular bit of news can only really harm Microsoft. 

That’s right folks, because North Korea is developing its own Linux operating system with a rather lovely looking UI.

Instead of Red Hat, North Korea’s version of Linux, Red Star, is apparently being sold for a street value of just $5 and apparently takes just 15 minutes to install, but comes with a catch; its only language option is Korean.

The software was purchased and reviewed by a Russian student by the name of Mikhail, based at Pyongyang’s Kim Il-Sung University, who managed to circumvent North Korea’s strict censorship to post screen shots and comments about the OS on his blog, using the Internet connection at the Russian embassy.

The blog shows screenshots of the OS bearing a rather striking resemblance to Windows’ operating systems, boasting an e-mail client, antivirus software, multimedia players, games, a Word program and its own variant of Mozilla’s Firefox browser – Red Star browser.

The browser, of course, only gives users access to North Korea’s closed and very limited network, dubbed My Country BBS, which gives the populace access to only that which Kim Jong-il deems appropriate for his denizens to see.

According to Russian online news site Russia Today, the software also came with a Readme file which includes a quote from N. Korea’s supreme leader himself “about how important for DPRK it is to have its own Linux-based operating system compatible with Korean traditions.”

But the site also notes that the OS “still needs polishing,” and that the “OS is not popular (yet?), with most people who need one preferring Windows XP and Windows Vista.”