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How to install Kali Linux

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How to install Kali Linux: You are passionate about the cyber security sector and some geek friends, happy for your new interest, advised you to install Kali Linux and perform the first security tests from there on your network. I tell you right away that the suggestion was more than appropriate: in fact, Kali Linux is a Debian-based Linux distribution full of tools dedicated to  penetration testing  and forensic computing , already configured and ready for use.

However enthusiastic you are about this new perspective, there is a problem that torments you: you don’t have the faintest idea of  how to install Kali Linux and, at least for this time, you wouldn’t want to turn to your “geek” friend to get you assist. Well, I’m happy to announce that you are right in the right guide at the right time: in fact, below I will explain by wire and by sign how to install this Linux distro using different methods.

In this case, I will introduce you to the various versions of Kali Linux and explain how to install them on a USB stick, how to perform them in live mode and how to perform a real installation of the operating system on the computer. Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it seems: just a little patience, a few minutes of free time and you’re done. What else to tell you? Simply, enjoy your reading and enjoy!

Kali Linux versions and minimum requirements

How to install Kali Linux

Kali Linux is a Linux distribution designed primarily to test network security. It is equipped with a series of programs used for this purpose and is available for both  32  and  64 bit computers . It can be downloaded with or without a desktop environment: to be precise, the following versions are available.

  • Default – simply called “Kali Linux”, it has the GNOME 3 desktop environment.
  • E17  – includes, in addition to all the security software park, the Enlightenment desktop in version 17 (E17, in fact).
  • KDE – this is the variant of the operating system equipped with the KDE Plasma environment.
  • Mate – is the version of Kali Linux with the Mate desktop environment.
  • Xfce – also in this case, the difference with the other versions is the presence of the Xfce desktop environment.
  • Light – this is a version that does not have any pre-installed desktop environment. The ISO image is smaller than the others, and you can add a desktop environment later, using the Internet connection. It is recommended for advanced users or server systems.
  • Images for  VirtualBox  and  VMware – these are files through which you can virtualize the operating system in a couple of clicks using the VirtualBox and VMware software.

Initially, Kali Linux was conceived as a distribution to be started via  USB stick  and without leaving traces on the disk at the next reboot, i.e. using the so-called live mode : if necessary, there is the possibility to save the modified files on the USB stick itself, to reuse them on subsequent restarts. To date, however, Kali Linux can be safely installed on your computer’s hard disk, perhaps alongside  Windows , using a simple and practical graphic procedure.

In all cases, 1 GB of RAM is sufficient to run Kali Linux  and, in the case of installation on disk, a partition with at least  20 GB of space. In order to obtain a system with a desktop that is stable and does not encounter sudden freezes, I still recommend installing it on a machine (physical or virtual) equipped with  2 or more GB of  RAM .

How to install Kali Linux on a USB stick

How to install Kali Linux on a USB stick

As I explained in the previous section of the tutorial, you can start Kali Linux and use it directly via a USB device, without changing the computer’s hard disk: all you have to do is create a bootable USB stick starting from the operating system image and get the computer to boot from it.

Do you particularly like the solution? Perfect! To begin with, download the version of Kali Linux that best suits you by taking it from the official website : identify it from the proposed table and, to start immediately with the download, press on the HTTP entry  placed in its correspondence. For this guide I will refer to the default 64-bit version of Kali Linux (the first in the list, so to speak).

Once this is done, download the Unetbootin program  from this page by clicking on the button most suitable for the operating system you are using, for example  Download (Windows) if you use Windows, then connect the USB drive on which you intend to install Kali Linux to the computer.

After completing this operation, start the program you just downloaded (copying it in the Applications folder  , if you are using macOS), press the Yes button  (or type your administrator password if you use a Mac) and, in the proposed window, place the check mark next to it under  Disc Image .

At this point, press the button to select the previously downloaded Kali Linux ISO, make sure that the USB drive item is selected in the  Type drop-down menu  , and that the drive letter of your stick is specified in the Drive  menu .

As you will soon discover, Kali Linux supports the persistent boot mode : this means, in fact, that it can be ensured that the operating system can save files and settings directly to the USB stick if necessary, making them available also to subsequent restarts. To take advantage of this possibility, you must indicate the amount of space to devote to these files (in MB), intervening in the text field  Space reserved for user files that will be protected from various reboots .

Once the settings are finished, press the OK button  and wait patiently for the creation procedure to be completed. If you need further clarification, I recommend you rely on my guide on how to create bootable USB stick .

Once your drive is created, boot from it by setting  your computer’s BIOS  or  UEFI to boot directly from USB; if you can’t complete this step yourself, you can refer to my guides on how to enter the BIOS and how to install Ubuntu from USB .

Once the boot procedure is complete, the operating system displays a selection screen: I recommend selecting the Live (amd64 )  or  Live USB Persistence item , which, as already mentioned, allows you to save files and settings directly on the USB stick and to have them available also in subsequent starts. In this way, as explained at the beginning, the operating system is completely run from a USB stick and leaves no trace on the computer’s hard drive.

Once you have completed the system initialization sequence, you can use Kali Linux as you like, with the certainty that, whatever you do, it will not affect the disk of your computer. As for access, the password of the  pre-configured root user  is  toor : you can use it if you need it to run the software on board.

How to install Kali Linux on PC

Have you tried Kali by starting it as I showed you a little while ago, did you realize that you appreciate this operating system and now would you like to perform a complete installation on your computer, so that you always have it available? Then this is the section of the tutorial that best suits you: below, in fact, I will explain  how to install Kali Linux on PC by  performing an installation on disk or creating a virtual machine.

Install on disk

Install on disk

Before continuing and explaining how to install Kali Linux on your computer, I want to make a premise: the Linux installation procedures, if not practiced in a precise way, could damage or delete the data already present on the disk or, even, make the operating system unusable . So, in order to get a little familiarity, I recommend using a program like VirtualBox to carry out the necessary experiments, and then proceed, once a sufficient level of experience is reached, to the actual installation on disk.

If you are not able to create a virtual machine from scratch, you can follow the instructions specified in my tutorial on how to virtualize Ubuntu : the only trick to apply, in this case, is to replace the Ubuntu ISO image with that of Kali Linux, which you can download by following the instructions outlined above.

Having made this necessary premise, it’s time to take action: first, create a bootable USB stick with Kali Linux using Unetbootin , as I explained to you earlier. After completing this operation, create two partitions on your computer’s hard disk to contain Kali Linux: the first must be at least  20 GB , and it is the one on which the operating system is installed, while the second, called  swap , should be equal to  double the RAM on your PC. How do you say? Are you unable to partition the disk? Don’t worry, I explained how to do it in my guide on how to partition hard drives .

Once the disk configuration procedure is complete, restart your computer by booting from USB (as I mentioned in the previous section) and, once you have accessed the Kali Linux choice menu, select the Graphical Install item  using the arrow keys on the keyboard , then press the Enter key  .

At this point, all you have to do is follow the on-screen instructions to proceed with the installation: select the Italian  item  to set the language, click on the Continue button  , select the Italy item  , click on the Continue button  , choose the Italian keyboard  from the list, click again on the Continue button  and wait for the system to load the components necessary for installation.

Next, type the name of your computer in the Host name (eg Kali) text box  , press the Continue button  , and repeat the operation for the domain name: if you have no special needs, but need to share the files in network with other Windows computers, I advise you to type the WORKGROUP domain  for a compatibility issue.

The next step concerns the addition of a root password, that is the one used to access the root account  in case of need: enter it in both the proposed boxes, taking care to memorize it (recovering the root password may be impossible), and click the Continue button  .

At this point, the installation program needs to know the partitions on which Kali Linux must be installed: if you have an entire disk available (keeping in mind that everything inside it will be deleted ), select the Guided item  – use the entire disc , press  Continue and select the chosen disc from the next screen.

If, as I suggested, you have created partitions manually, select the Manual item  , press on the Continue button  , select the partition that must contain the operating system (the one with 20 GB or more), press on  Continue , and follow the instructions to the screen to set the mount point on it  / .

Repeat the operation also for the swap partition  and, once you have checked the settings again, select the item  End the partitioning and write the changes to the disk and click on the Continue button  , put a check mark on the Yes box  and press the button again  Go ahead . Be careful: in this way, all data already present on the chosen partitions or disks is irreversibly deleted .

Wait for the system installation to complete, then tick the Yes box  and double click on the Continue button  to configure Internet sources for future updates and installations of the packages.

At this point, you just have to install the  boot loader , that is, that small program that allows you to choose the operating system to start: place the check mark on the item  Yes , press the Continue button  , select the main hard drive (the one on which the operating system is already installed) from the proposed list and click again on the Continue button  .

The installation is finally finished: all you have to do is press the Continue button , wait for the computer to restart and, if necessary, choose Kali Linux from the GRUB menu to immediately use the operating system.

Use a ready-made virtual machine

You really like Kali Linux, you want to have it available on a virtual machine ready for use, but you don’t want to carry out the long virtual installation procedure that I mentioned in the previous section?

Then I have great news for you: the Kali Linux team, in fact, has made available  virtual applications containing entire installations of Kali Linux, and which can be added to programs like VirtualBox in  just three clicks !

To do this, start by downloading the VirtualBox manager from its download page , being careful to choose the version that best suits your operating system, then start the downloaded file and complete the setup by following the simple instructions on the screen.

After completing the installation of VirtualBox, connected to the Internet page relating to the virtual applications of Kali Linux, scroll down to locate the  Kali Linux VirtualBox Images section , select it with a click, and presses on the entry relating to the 32 or 64 bit version of the operating system (eg  Kali-Linux VBox 64-Bit [OVA] ) to immediately download the application.

When the download is complete, double-click on the file you just downloaded, if necessary select  VirtualBox Manager from the list of proposed applications, then press the Import button  attached to the new window shown on the screen.

Once the import procedure is complete, select the newly created virtual machine (e.g.  Kali-Linux-2018.1-vbox-amd64 ) from the side panel of the VirtualBox home screen, then press the Start button  (the green arrow to the right) located up. Once you reach the login screen, type the root username  followed by the Enter button , and repeat the operation with the password  toor .

At this point, you can use Kali Linux and customize it as you like: if you want to customize the system language and keyboard, for example, press the shutdown indicator located at the top right, then the Settings  button  (the key-shaped one) English), select the  Region & Language item from the side panel, press  English (United States)  inside the Language box  , click the button (⋮) located at the bottom, select  Italian from the list and click the Done button  . Then repeat the operation with the Formats panel  .

To also change the keyboard layout, click on the + button  located under the Input Sources box  , then on the button (⋮)  attached to the new proposed screen, click on the item  Italian (Italy) , then on the Add button  , again on the item  Italian and finally again on the Add button  .

Once the language settings have been completed, you can create an administrator user to avoid root access: to do this, press once again on the system indicator located at the top right, then on the root  and  Account settings items  .

Once this is done, press the Add user button  located in the upper right corner of the new window, click on the Administrator button  , fill in the forms with the required information, move the check mark next to the item  Set a password now (taking care of enter it in the fields provided and store it). then presses successively on the Add button  .

On the next login, you can safely use the administrator user created in this way and take full advantage of the features offered by Kali Linux.

How to install Kali Linux on Windows 10

How to install Kali Linux on Windows 10

Are you a Windows 10 user ? Then I have great news for you: you can install and run Kali Linux within the operating system itself, without creating virtual machines or performing installations resident on disk.

This is possible thanks to the  subsystem for Linux  made available within Windows 10, starting from the last Creators Update: in other words, it is possible to download and install Kali Linux from the Microsoft Store, and use it via the Command Prompt.

The first thing to do, to proceed with this approach, is to activate the Linux subsystem: open the  Start menu by clicking on the flag- shaped button located at the bottom left of the screen, or start the Cortana search bar  , type the phrase  functionality Windows and click on its icon.

Using the new screen that appears on the desktop, identify the item  Windows subsystem for Linux , put a check in the corresponding box, press the OK button  and then click the Restart now button  to make the required change effective.

At this point, connected to the  Windows Store , type  Kali Linux in the search bar at the top, press the Enter button  , select the icon for the operating system and press the Get button  to install it immediately (if you want, you can go directly to the Microsoft Store pressing on this link ).

Once the setup is complete, open the Start menu once again and start  Kali Linux by clicking on its icon and wait for the operating system setup to complete: when the Enter new UNIX username appears  , type in a username of your choice, press the Enter key  , then enter the access password, press again on  Enter and repeat the operation to confirm the password: Kali Linux is finally installed!

As it is easy to notice, a graphical interface is not available at this stage, since the Light version of the operating system has been installed  : before proceeding with further operations, I recommend typing the command  sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade to perform a full system upgrade.

How do you say? Would you really like to have a desktop to use with mouse and keyboard? With due precautions, this is possible: by using Xfce on Kali Linux and the Windows remote desktop , you can install and use a graphical interface for your distribution. Before continuing, however, I want to warn you that this procedure, albeit rarely, can lead to sudden malfunctions and freezes of Linux: do not worry, however, it is not about anything that cannot be solved with a restart!

That said, let’s go back to the action: once logged into Kali Linux, type the command sudo apt-get install wget inside , press the Enter button twice  , then enter the wget command  https://kali.sh /xfce4.sh and presses Enter again  . At this point, type the command  sudo sh xfce4.sh followed by pressing the Enter key  , type your administrator password and press the Enter button once again  : after a few minutes, the configuration procedure is started.

Using the directional arrows on the keyboard, proceed to configure the mapping of the same: select the Other item from the list  , press the Enter button  , choose the Italian item  , press  Enter again , select the Italian item again  from the next window and press to the third time on the Enter button  .

Once the procedure is completed, the phrase Configuring XRDP to listen on port 3390 (but not starting the service) is shown on the screen  : subsequently type the command  sudo /etc/init.d/xrdp start  followed by  Enter , enter your  password administrator, press Enter again  and make sure that the service is started on port  3390 (a green “ok” is shown on the screen).

At this point, always keeping the Kali Linux command window open (if you wish, you can minimize it), open the  Windows Start menu , type in the phrase  Remote Desktop , click on the Remote Desktop Connection icon  , enter in the Computer box  , the string  localhost: 3390 , then presses the Connect button  , put a check in the  Do not show this message again for connections to this computer box  and then presses the Yes button  .

The graphical interface of Kali Linux is served! You just have to type your username and password in the fields provided and click OK , taking care to leave the Xorg entry  in the Session field  .

Once the work is completed, do not “brutally” close the Remote Desktop window, but log out of the session by clicking on your username located at the top right, then on the Log Out item , and finally on the Log Out button  . It wasn’t difficult, was it?