North Korea's State Computers Run This Delightful Mac OS X Knockoff

By Robert Sorokanich on at

At first glance, this screen looks strangely familiar. The dock icons, the grey, rounded windows, the whole layout; it's Mac OS X, except not quite. The top-left icon is the giveaway. This ain't OS X, it's Red Star, North Korea's state-sanctioned operating system. And Version 3.0 looks very Mac-like.

These screenshots were reportedly captured by Will Scott, a computer science graduate student who recently taught computer courses at North Korea's Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, according to his Reddit AMA bio. Red Star 3.0, released this past summer, offers a new Mac-esque motif in place of the previous version's Windows 7-like design.

Notably, most North Koreans don't have access to the world wide web, so Red Star 3.0's Mozilla-based browser (named "Naenara," or "my country") is mostly used on library and university computers to access a heavily limited national intranet.

But while Kim Jong-un won't let his people have unfettered access to the web, he will give them access to a fashionable, outdated (knockoff) operating system. So over the summer, the state-run Korea Computer Centre released the revamped OS that borrows gleefully from the Mac system the rest of the world knows so well.

If nothing else, Red Star 3.0 shows that North Korea's knockoff industry and walled-off parallel tech universe have design chops, even if they are a few years behind. [Computerworld]