02.06.14

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Sure, GNU/Linux is Used Extensively by North Korea, But Why the Hate?

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux at 6:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New types of smears against GNU/Linux come from an unexpected angle which needs tackling

HATRED towards North Korea is cleverly being projected onto hatred against GNU/Linux. Nobody has done this as shamefully as the insidious BBC, which uses the news to insinuate that GNU/Linux is crazy, communist [1], or something like that (the BBC rarely covers GNU/Linux at all, perhaps because many managers in there came from Microsoft UK). It often seems like the BBC only ever covers GNU/Linux when it has something negative to say (we gave examples of this pattern before), or only when it’s “rogue” or associated with something rogue like a virus.

Interestingly enough, more hate towards GNU/Linux in North Korea comes from Apple fan sites [2-4] (not necessarily tied to Apple itself). Never mind the fact that North Korea in many ways resembles Apple and Android's founder/former chief seemingly compared Steve Jobs to North Korea's dead leader (Kim Il-sung). If something has got “North Korea” in it, then it’s automatically malicious. Generally speaking, if one wants to make peace with a country, then one should start by showing respect. To ridicule is to breed more tensions. The BBC’s smears are smears of hypocrisy. For instance, saying that North Korea counts years since the death of a leader neglects the fact that we in the West count the years since the death of Christ. Here is some North Korean coverage [5] and articles from IDG [6,7], the latter of which asking: “Should Linux look like Windows?”

It should probably look like neither Windows nor OS X for reasons we mentioned before. Users’ familiarity is probably outweighed by the need for unique and distinct identity. There are also associated risks, reinforced by Apple’s litigation over GUIs. Having seen North Korea’s operating system, I can’t say that it really resembles Apple’s. Apple did not invent the dock (it copied it), it was not the first with Brushed Metal and Aqua (I had those in GNU/Linux before OS X even existed), and North Korea’s operating system hardly even imitates those. When Apple accuses Android or Samsung (South Korean) of copying iOS it often turns out (in the courtroom) that it was actually Apple doing the imitation (of predecessors in Asia, for example LG in South Korea).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Apple’s Mac OSX imitated in latest North Korea system

    North Korea has upgraded the operating system used in the country – and it bears a striking resemblance to Apple’s Mac OSX platform.

    [...]

    The Red Star OS is peppered with North Korean propaganda, and its calendar tells users it is not 2014, but 103 – the number of years since the birth of former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung.

    An earlier version of Red Star OS was made available worldwide in 2010 after a Russian student posted it online.

  2. North Korea’s Official ‘Red Star’ Operating System Borrows Heavily From OS X
  3. North Korea’s Home-Grown Operating System Mimics OS X
  4. North Korea Laughably Copies Apple With New Linux Distro

    Red Star Linux, a Linux distribution used in North Korea, has been upgraded to version 3.0. With it comes an entire UI revamp, one that looks extremely similar to that of OS X. The menu buttons are placed on the lefthand corner of each window and many UI buttons have an “aqua” effect as seen in previous versions of OS X. Most notably however, is the addition of a dock on the bottom of the desktop that is almost identical to the dock seen in OS X.

  5. North Korea’s Red Star OS goes Mac
  6. North Korea’s home-grown OS looks a lot like Apple’s OS X
  7. Should Linux look like Windows?

    The real question here though is: Should Linux look more like Windows? My initial thought is no, it certainly should not look like Windows. After all, one of the big attractions of using Linux is to get away from Windows. Who wants to be reminded of an operating system that they just dumped because they didn’t want to use it any more?

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