The open source software model has existed for many years and we have seen a lot of software development communities form. But have you ever wondered if open source exists in countries like North Korea? If so, how do North Koreans use open source code? A good example of open source is Linux used directly or indirectly in almost every device on the planet.
Mike Izbicki, one of the contributors, shares his experience teaching open source software in North Korea. Mike taught a graduate class how to contribute to open source software.
Open source in North Korea
In Mike’s blog post it says, “As part of the class, students were asked to submit patches for a project of their choice and I wanted to share stories of how two of the patches This is included in the machine learning libraries mlpack and vowpal wabbit. I believe these examples are academic cooperation between North Koreans and Americans that can benefit ordinary citizens of both countries and improve diplomatic relations.”
One of the students working on a vehicle detection system has been tasked with solving traffic problems in the city of Pyongyang. And the student developed something that looks like this.
The author says that compiling requires at least 2GB of RAM but the student’s laptop only has 1GB; so the analysis process is a bit slow. Is it safe to assume that North Koreans are outdated when it comes to technology? Correct.
Not everyone in North Korea has access to the Internet except graduate students and higher institutions. mlpack was the library of choice for the project because it turned out that most undergraduates were taught C++.
What is the future of open source in North Korea?
“The patches submitted for this class are the first open source contributions from North Korea; Unfortunately, they were also the last,” added Mike. This is because former US President Donald Trump banned Americans from traveling to North Korea in 2017. North Korea has a closed source Linux distribution called a Linux distribution. RedStar OS and its wallpapers were recently extracted from the ISO.
It is also very unfortunate to see a country unable to contribute to the open source community due to limited legislation. If it weren’t for these limitations, I believe we would have made great contributions to the open source community. What do you see?