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You Can Download North Korea's OS X Knockoff for Desktops (But Don't)

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An anonymous Dogecoin lover recently uploaded a torrent that appears to contain the delightful Mac OS X knockoff built by North Korea. While it's not news that the DPRK created its own a Linux-based operating system that looks just like OS X, it's pretty funny that you can now play with what looks like a copy of it.

The software is called Red Star 3.0. Quick disclaimer, though: You probably don't want to install North Korea's janky operating system on your computer. The download is 2.6-gigabytes, and the software's origins remain unclear. The hackers that uploaded the torrent say they've been "pulling data out of DPRK's ass since 2014!" They also asked for donations in the form of Dogecoin.


This is all to say that it's entirely possible that someone's created a piece of software that simply looks like the images of Red Star 3.0 we've seen in the past. Just to be sure, we asked Will Scott, the American graduate student who taught computer science in Pyongyang and posted the first screenshots of Red Star 3.0, about the veracity of the newly surfaced software. "I believe the disk image that has surfaced on the internet is legitimate," Scott told Gizmodo.

Regardless, the alleged copy of Red Star 3.0 now available for download does appear to work. Here's a screenshot from Motherboard's test run showing the native web browser which is an obvious Firefox knockoff:


The reliable North Korea Tech blog took Red Star 3.0 for a spin inside of a virtual machine and published an installation guide for anyone who wants to do the same. (A virtual machine is basically just an emulator, and if you decide to try it, you should use a virtual machine so that you don't break your computer.)

When setting up Red Star 3.0, you'll be prompted to set a time zone and hear a popular North Korean folk song when the system boots up. Once inside, you have access to slightly bastardized versions of the same programs that come with OS X as well as some games and some very North Korean wallpapers. This one's called "Snow at the Baskol Outpost:"

Screenshot via Opening Up North Korea

You're not necessarily confined to Red Star 3.0 and its graphic designed glory. As Motherboard points out, the operating system will also run Windows 3.0. This is where things get a little weird, too.


Screenshot via Motherboard

As Will Scott explained to the Chaos Computer Congress, North Koreans usually use Windows XP. Scott says that Red Star is made by the Korean Computing Center (KCC) which is one of the large labs in the capital. "My gut feeling here," he says, "is that it gets used more for industrial automation, contracting things." He added, "For end user computers, it was all basically Windows XP, a little bit of Windows 7."


Watch Scott's talk in full if you're interested in seeing Red Star 3.0 in action but don't want to risk running it on your own computer. The demo starts at around the 9:40 mark in the video below. You'll even get a little bonus peek at North Korea's weirdo tablet at the end. But if you're feeling dangerous, here's a direct download of Red Star 3.0. Beware: the download is 2.6 gigabytes, and it's probably pretty risky to install it on your computer. But you said you were feeling dangerous. [North Korea Tech, Motherboard, Opening Up North Korea]


Top screenshot via Motherboard