Distros from the East

There are numerous Linux variants spun from the same kernel. Many of them are gorgeous enough to blow our mind at first sight. But did you know that there are even government backed distributions? We had always been a vocal supporter of the idea and it’s trending. For example, India has its own Linux variant, BOSS Linux developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, a government undertaking of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology. While the need for an indigenous operating system ranges from purely research and development to localization to trustworthiness of closed source software, some of these operating systems are well-maintained and intended for regular usage. Some of these are publicly available too. This article covers two such operating systems from the Eastern half of the world which received major updates towards the very end of 2014.

Linux Deepin

While the Chinese govt. is generally believed to be very conservative and strict in its IT related policies, Linux Deepin is undoubtedly the most beautiful Linux distro ever developed with govt. support. Deepin is an Ubuntu derivative with exquisite look and feel. Deepin supports English and comes with its own packages in several categories. The desktop environment is Deepin Desktop Environment (DDE), based on HTML5. Applications like Deepin Software Centre, DMusic and DPlayer are developed with the average user in mind. Deepin also comes with its own file manager and easily accessible system controls. The latest release at the time of writing is Deepin 2014.2.

Red Star OS

Red Star is from North Korea, once again backed by the government. You might have seen the red star on the North Korean flag. I can imagine the raised eyebrows but it is a beautiful operating system having a strong resemblance to OSX with respect to look and feel. There is no official website that I know of but the details of the download can be found here. The desktop may look a Mint mod at first sight but it isn’t. The desktop is based on KDE 3. Here’s a handy installation guide from North Korea Tech website but I am not sure how to change the default language to English or if at all it’s possible. The browser is Firefox and you can change its language to English by disabling the Korean language pack from the add-ons tab. DNS settings are restricted and you might have to use IP address in place of domain name to access certain websites. It runs Wine. The latest release at the time of writing is Red Star 3.0.

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