Red Star OS: The North Korean operating system that looks a lot like macOS

Here’s something that will interest you if you like strange operating systems… YouTuber Eric Parker got his hands on a Red Star OS, the famous North Korean operating system. Kim Jong-un’s developers took KDE, customized it macOS-style, and voilà, here’s the result. And rest assured, there’s no need to go through the gulag to test it.

So, the first surprise at boot time: a screen in the colors of North Korea. Quite a change from the usual manufacturer logos. Once on the desktop, it’s funny because they’ve copied the look of macOS perfectly, from the arrangement of icons to the menu bar, even including the old Graphite theme of macOS.

In terms of apps, there’s plenty as well since there’s a text editor, a media player, an email client, and even an office suite that looks exactly like LibreOffice. Digging a bit, Eric also discovers that they developed their text editor interface in Python + GTK.

Now, the most interesting thing for the YouTuber is to see if you can go on the Internet with this famous Red Star OS… First off, the system is configured to only use IP addresses in, those reserved for intranets. The North Koreans are clever; they’ve thought of everything to keep their subjects in Kim Jong Un’s wonderful web. But well, just tweak the network settings a bit, and it works. But that was without counting on the firewall, which has stricter settings than a nightclub bouncer. Like DNS blocking, IPs, and so on, via a dedicated set of iptables rules.

Eric bypasses all that, and there, magic, Google shows up! But don’t expect to get very far… Most modern sites demand HTTPS and valid certificates, which is a nightmare on an exotic OS like Red Star OS. But Eric can still browse some old-fashioned web pages in HTTP, read articles on Wikipedia, or watch a few YouTube videos. It’s better than nothing!

Under the hood, this good old Red Star OS still has some nice aspects. The kernel seems to be Linux, probably an old Red Hat given the presence of SELinux and other typical tools for this distribution, but no repository to install new tools or update old ones. There’s even a built-in Wine to run Windows programs. Handy for those who want to play Minesweeper between Party meetings. And if you’re a fan of the command line, there’s even a terminal provided with the usual tools.

In short, an OS worth checking out, especially with that macOS look! Apparently, Kim Jong-un himself bought a Mac in 2011 and asked his developers to take inspiration from it for Redstone OS ^^… Power to the North Korean geeks who deal with these technologies from another era.

Mohamed SAKHRI
Mohamed SAKHRI

I'm the creator and editor-in-chief of Tech To Geek. Through this little blog, I share with you my passion for technology. I specialize in various operating systems such as Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android, focusing on providing practical and valuable guides.

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