Feeds

North Korea mobilizes Red Star Linux rollout

Shoddy communist-era construction?

High performance access to file storage

Critics have often contended open source is a communist movement, and now North Korea is following Cuba and China by building its own Linux operating system.

The Stalinist hangover from the Cold War is reported to have devised its own statist Linux in a country that had run Windows XP on the few PCs within its borders.

Red Star Linux features a browser called My Country, inspired by the Red North's Juche philosophy of self-reliance. Like so many UN aid packages to the North, though, this also turns out to be little more than a prop imported from the capitalist west: My Country is really Firefox, a Russian student reviewing Red Star said.

Other features are an audio and video player, text editor - and three games.

Red Star Linux was devised in 2002 and is still "not entirely stable" the reviewer said - but what can you expect from QA process where you're shot for questioning the Dear Leader's command line?

South Korea's Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) is reported to have said North Korea is now expanding the presence of Red Star Linux, adding that the distro can control the web-viewing habits of those using it and the flow of information they receive.

It was reported five years ago that just a tight circle of the North's citizens and leaders, including the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, had access to a PC. Kim, though, proclaimed the importance of the "IT age" in 2001 on the 60th anniversary of the ruling Worker's Party and a great leap forward began.

Why the embrace of computing for the masses?

One reason could be that the impoverished North is taking its lead from its chief benefactor, the People's Republic of China. The PRC has experienced explosive economic growth with an influx of foreign tech companies and a mushrooming netizen culture in a environment in which the state has succeeded in retaining tight and effective control of the web.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea already has, after all, it's own web site to tempt punters, here.

The rollout of Linux-powered PCs could also be to serve darker purposes: to groom growing ranks of proletarian and peasant geeks for cyber attacks. The US Pentagon last year said that attacks on South Korean and US government web sits and communications networks were the work of Lab 110, a secret unit of the North's Ministry of People's Armed Forces that specializes in hacking.

Finally, it seems, the Marxists could be about to throw our own communist bits and bytes back at us. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.