Most Linux distributions are designed for the general user, but Kali Linux isn’t one of them. This Debian-based distro is perfect for security professionals and curious amateurs who need the right tools for white-hat hacking and system testing.
Kali Linux has over 600 installed programs for security testing. It includes the best of them, from Aircrack to John the Ripper. Here’s how you can install Kali Linux on your own PC.
Downloading Kali Linux and Creating Installation Media
To begin installing Kali Linux, you’ll need to download the latest image file. Kali comes in 32- and 64-bit versions, smaller “light” editions with a reduced size, and Kali Linux for ARM CPUs like the Raspberry Pi.
You can also customize your desktop environment by choosing Kali with KDE, XFCE, and others. Head to the Kali Linux downloads page and download the relevant image file for your device.
You can use the balenaEtcher tool to flash the image file to a USB flash drive for installation on Linux, Windows and macOS. Open balenaEtcher and click “Select Image,” then select your Kali Linux image file.
Choose your USB flash drive under “Select target,” then click “Flash” to begin the flashing process.
With your USB flash drive ready, reboot your PC to begin the Kali Linux installation process.
Beginning the Installation Process
When you boot your PC using the Kali Linux flash drive, the options menu will be displayed. This gives you the chance to use Kali Linux straight from your USB drive using the “Live” option.
You also have two options for installation – install or graphical install. You’ll be able to install Kali from the “Live” option, too.
Use your keyboard arrow keys to select either the “Install” or “Graphical install” method, then press enter. The installation will begin.
First, you’ll be asked to select your language. If you’ve chosen the graphical installer, you’ll be able to use your keyboard and mouse to move through the language options. Once you’ve selected your language, click “Continue.”
At the next screen you’ll be asked to choose your location. This will configure your system time zone and language locale (for example, British English). Choose your location, then click “Continue” again.
Confirm your keyboard language and click “Continue” at the following screen. Kali Linux will default to the standard QWERTY keyboard layout, so this will be a locale change, rather than a full layout selection.
The Kali Linux installer will begin loading extra modules for the installation process at this stage as well as connect to your network. You may need to provide details for wireless connectivity at this stage.
Allow the installer to complete this process. Once it’s completed, you’ll be asked to provide a hostname for your Kali Linux installation. Type a suitable hostname, then click “Continue.”
You’ll need to choose a “domain name” for your local network at the next stage. Unless you plan on allowing your device to be accessible from the internet, type in “.local.”
Once you’re ready to proceed, click “Continue” to begin the final installation stages.
The final stages of your installation will require you to select your root password and configure drive partitions before the installation completes.
Choose a strong password for your root account. Type it in twice, then click “Continue.”
A few stages, like configuring the Kali Linux clock, will be processed automatically. The next stage for users is to configure the hard drive partitions for your Kali Linux installation.
If you’re using your entire hard drive for Kali, select “Guided – use enter disk.” Otherwise, select “Manual” to create the partition table yourself using free space on your hard drive.
When you’re ready, click “Continue.”
In the next menu choose the hard drive you want to install Kali Linux before clicking “Continue.”
You’ll also need to confirm you want all your files held on a single partition. Click “Continue” once more to accept this.
You’ll be asked to confirm your chosen partition table. Double-check everything is correct, make sure “Finish partitioning and write changes to disk” is selected, then click “Continue.”
Select “Yes” to the final partition formatting confirmation screen, then click “Continue.”
Your partition tables will be created and Kali Linux will begin the full installation process, copying files and configuring the distribution to your choices.
You’ll be asked if you want Kali Linux to use updated network mirrors during your installation. Choose “Yes,” then click “Continue.”
Unless you’re using a proxy, click “Continue” to the following screen, too.
The installer will proceed until it reaches the GRUB boot loader installation. Choose “Yes,” then click “Continue” to begin the GRUB installation.
You’ll need to choose where to install GRUB. Choose your hard drive from the list of available devices, then click “Continue.”
Once the installation process is completed, remove your USB flash drive and reboot into your newly-installed Kali Linux installation.
Better Security Testing Using Kali Linux
With so many security testing tools, Kali Linux is the ultimate Linux distribution for anyone looking at a career in cybersecurity. It’s also a useful option for anyone looking to stress test their own devices and networks, or if you’re simply curious about penetration testing.
You don’t need Kali Linux, however. If you have an Android device, you can try some of the best hacking apps for Android instead.