How to Install and Use a Vulnerability Scanner in Linux

Gvm Feature Image

One of the greatest things about Linux is the amount of open source tools at your disposal, although they might not be installed. In this how-to, we will install OpenVas, an open-source vulnerability scanning and management application, and then run your first vulnerability scan.

First things first, we have to choose our base Linux distro. This walkthrough will use Ubuntu. Some other distros, such as Kali Linux, may already have it installed.

In addition to our Ubuntu installation we will need to choose which version of OpenVas we will be working with. Currently, there are three versions in circulation. For this tutorial we will be using the newest – the Greenbone Vulnerability Management (GVM) version 10. To read more details on OpenVas or GVM, they can be found here.

Getting Started

In order to begin the installation of GVM, we also will need to install the proper required repository, which GVM is dependent on. To do this we will begin opening a terminal session by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T and run the following command:

The output of the above command will give text-based instruction for GVM but also give you optional instructions.

Updating Your Ubuntu Installation

Starting with a fresh installation of Ubuntu 18.04, we will want to make sure that we are fully updated. To do this, run the following command:

Installation of OpenVas

At this point, we are ready to install GVM. The default database used for GVM is SQLite. If you prefer another database for use with this solution, you can find additional instructions at the link provided above.

To install GVM, run the following:

During your installation, you will be prompted with additional configuration steps:

To configure the Unix Socket, select “Yes.”

Unix Socket

To configure GVMD-sqlite, select “Yes.”

Gvmd Sqlite

To configure GVMD-sqlite-cert, select “Yes.”

Gvmd Sqlite Cert

To configure GVMD-sqlite-scap, select “Yes.”

Gvmd Sqlite Scap

When the installation completes, the final step is to update the greenbone nvt/cert/scap data with the following set of commands:

Running Your First scan

Congratulations on completing the installation of GVM – now the fun begins. First, to give ourselves the warm fuzzies, let’s check the status of our installation. All properly-running applications should show a green dot or ‘active’ status when run. We can do that by launching the following-

GVM gives users the ability to use a Web interface. To access the Web interface, navigate your web browser to:

Web Gui

Login with the following credentials:

Once logged in using the admin credentials, we can now set up our first scan. To do this, select “Scan -> Tasks” from the application menu.

Scan Task

Then from the task window, find the ‘wand’ icon and select Task Wizard.

Task Wizard

When the Task Wizard window appears, we will enter the IP address of our host. Since we are only using one machine, we will scan our local host. To do this, confirm that is entered. If not, manually enter it in the space provided.

Ip Address Hostname

Click “Start Scan” and wait. This may take a few minutes, depending on whether you used a fresh install of Ubuntu or an existing machine.

Once the scan has completed, you will see a page similar to the following notifications.

Task Done

Now to see your results, go to “Scans -> Reports.” Due to the fact that this is a new test machine, my results have no findings. If you run a scan on an existing machine on your company or home network, you may have different results.

Scan Reports

To conclude, we have just hit the tip of the iceberg in what GVM can do for finding system vulnerabilities. I challenge you to configure different scans and uncover things you may not have known existed. You will be surprised at what you find, I guarantee. Happy Scanning!

Josh Grimes Josh Grimes

Josh Grimes is a freelance writer with an uncontrollable passion for technology. Whether Windows or Linux, gaming or cyber-security, Josh is an advocate to "making TECH easier." You can see some of his other work at


  1. Hi
    Testing your tutorial… install seems to be ok but, when trying ti define my first task using wizard function :
    ” Wizard quick_first_scan could not be run by admin” (in the logs)
    … ?

    1. I have listed some troubleshooting steps below your comment. Please keep me updated of your status.

  2. First thing I would do would be to run the status commands in the tutorial again to verify that they are all active and functioning. If they are all active, I would then run the 3 commands to sync you installation data again. Lastly I would restart these 3 scanner services:
    systemctl restart gvmd
    systemctl restart openvas-scanner
    systemctl restart gsad

    Please update this thread with your status.

  3. Hi,

    Looks like the install and configuration instructions are no longer valid. There was a new release about a day ago and has changed the install & setup procedure.

    Your instructions worked for me in a test VM on Monday – which I then deleted after I liked what I saw.

    I tried to install today, and no luck in getting it working. And then I found this:

    “Greenbone Vulnerability Management version 11 (GVM-11) is the current stable major release of tools offering a comprehensive and powerful vulnerability scanning and vulnerability management solution. GVM is developed for and as part of the commercial product line Greenbone Security Manager. It is developed by Greenbone and licenced as Open Source.”

  4. When I launch the command “systemctl status gvmd # manager”, I get this error: “Unit gvmd.service could not be found”
    My OS is Manjaro. I installed OpenVas, gvm-libs, gvmd, from the regular repository (community). First, I think the services are not enabled.

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