Is it safe to install North Korea Linux?

North Korea’s version of Linux () has gotten quite a bit of media coverage, and it’s also attracted the attention of some Linux users. One user wondered in a Reddit thread if it was safe to install Red Star OS to check it out.

Behemoth9 started the thread with this post:

Is it safe to install Red Star OS?

I’ve seen people install it and get it running in a VM and stuff and it looks interesting but does it report home? I really want to give it a whirl but I’d rather not have Kim Jong Un watching me.

I know that it comes with a ton of built in spyware but does it work outside of the DPRK?

His fellow Linux redditors responded with their thoughts about North Korea Linux:

TheMsDosNerd: “I don’t know about Red Star OS, but the Android knock-off from the DPRK phones home very very often:

Every time you open an app it phones home.

Every picture/document you save on the device gets copied to the regimes servers.

But safety is more than phoning home. On Red Star OS, the user can’t get root access. However, within days of its release, hackers managed to root the OS. That tells you something about the security.”

Dragnod: “There was a talk on chaos communication Congress in 2015 i believe. Not ultimately up to date but quite detailed and informative.”

Movsbi: “There are (NK) servers runnig it on the public internet, so they have some incentive to not have it backdoored. Plus the interesting stuff probably all happens in the NK intranet, to which we have no access.”

Modsareevil: “Use it for a month and tell us what happens.”

Jonessupa: “I don’t think anyone can tell for certain. You could approach it with a careful security researcher strategy. Encapsulate it well and don’t do any personal or otherwise important stuff in it. Do interesting things inside it and explore how it is built. Create some rubbish documents with the included software.

Capture the network traffic that it broadcasts. North Korea has one known block of 1024 IPv4 addresses: 175.45.176.0 – 175.45.179.255, so that address range might be the most interesting.”

Zeroto14: “It’s quite an interesting OS if you ask me, the lengths they have gone through to make it look and feel like OSX is quite impressive, wouldn’t install it on anything outside of a isolated VM, but then again that goes for quite a few distros.”

Pivotcreature: “I have it installed. There are a few versions but ours was based off of centos if I remember correctly. We sniffed the traffic and it indeed phones home regularly. It’s fun to play around with but it is definitely all in Korean and it’s not as if you can put a language pack in it.”

TheBatmen: “North Korea is a weird place. No one knows what is actually going on. Some refugees have spoken up but a lot of them fled before Kim Jong-Un was in power and only have limited experience.

By using their OS you can have a look into the life of North Koreans and know what their life might be like. It also offers a chance to study how good their security, spyware, etc. is.”

Videos about North Korea Linux

If you aren’t familiar with Red Star OS, here are some very interesting videos that will give you an idea of what you can expect if you install it.

. It’s free and open source software. The Opening Up North Korea blog has for North Korea Linux.

Videos about life inside of North Korea

North Korea is certainly a mysterious country to most westerners. But some folks have gone there, and it is possible to get a look at North Korea.

If you want to catch a glimpse of what life is like in North Korea itself, it’s worth checking out some of the videos below. Amazon also has lots of if you want to read about the hermit kingdom.

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