Red Star 3.0 was first leaked in 2014. We knew then that while it’s still based on Linux, it ditched its former Windows XP-style UI for that of a mid-2000s-era Mac OS X machine. Red Star OS uses KDE 3 and is available only in Korean, and is localized to North Korean spellings and terms. It contains a Firefox-based browser called Naenara for browsing the country’s intranet, along with an email client, media players, a music composition program, games, and a text editor.
Under the hood, it’s much worse. The researchers found that among Red Star 3.0’s capabilities, if you’d call them that, are watermarking different file types in order to track the distribution of documents and media files via USB stick, in a presumed effort to crack down on Western media creeping into the country.
The OS also has its own way of encrypting files. The researchers said that the system is “designed to defend and protect itself from changes made from user space,” and that the features implemented in Red Star OS are “the wet dream of a surveillance state dictator.” For example, if a user does make a change to the OS, like disabling an antivirus checker or firewall, the computer will display an error or even just reboot itself, according to a separate report in The Guardian.
- OS was designed to monitor and report on web usage. I doubt running this outside the country will be able to report anything back to the reclusive state, but out of an abundance of caution, you may want to run this with the network unplugged.
2. This is entirely in Korean! You won’t get an option to choose your language.
That being said, it’s a perfectly usable OS with decent driver support. It’s a couple of years out of date, but otherwise comes equipped with an Office suite, Firefox, games and other goodies. It’s quite useful right out of the box! Software installation is RPM based, and those at home on Red Hat Linux distros should be relatively comfortable here. I’d really like to dig further into its internals, but the language barrier is holding me back
If you don’t want to download via torrent linked in slipstream’s readme, I have the local files here: