Operating Systems

Kali Linux for Pentesting

In this article we take a look at Kali Linux from Offensive Security. Kali is a Debian-based Linux Distribution containing several hundred tools geared towards Penetration Testing, Security research, Computer Forensics and Reverse Engineering.

Kali Linux is referred to as a “Professional Penetration-Testing Distribution” which was released in 2013.

Some key features about this operating system (O.S.), in addition to the large number of tools Kali comes bundled with, include:

  • FHS compliant – adheres to the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard which helps support interoperability of applications, system administration tools, development tools, and scripts as well as greater uniformity of documentation.
  • Wide-ranging wireless device support – built to support as many wireless devices as possible, allowing it to run properly on a wide variety of hardware and making it compatible with numerous USB and other wireless devices.
  • ARMEL & ARMHF support – works on ARM-based single-board systems like Raspberry Pi which are becoming more prevalent and inexpensive.

Kali is based on a rebuild of BackTrack Linux which had ‘root’ as the default user. From early 2020 this was changed to ‘kali’ user for security purposes.

Documentation & Support

Documentation provided includes the following:

  • Kali Linux Documentation – this is the core documentation covering Installation, Virtualization, USB support, Kali on ARM, Containers (Docker & LXC/LXD), Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), Cloud, NetHunter and more.
  • Special Kali Linux Features – this section lists some of the features that make the Kali Linux distribution useful and relevant to security professionals. This covers customized ISOs, Live USB installs, full disk encryption, accessibility plus more.
  • Kali Linux Tools Website – provides a quick reference to all the tools that come bundled with Kali Linux. There is a Tools Listing, Meta-Packages section, and Version Tracking area. Meta-Packages enable subsets of tools to be installed. The Version Tracking area allows the comparison of upstream versions with the current version of each tool.

Support for Kali Linux includes:

  • Official Kali Linux Mirrors – the main package repository and repository of pre-built ISO images.
  • Official Kali Linux Sites – in addition to those listed here and above there are links to Kali’s Social Media accounts and the project’s official GIT repository.
  • Submitting Bugs – a guide for putting together a bug report.
  • Community Forums – Forum Rules for participating in the online community.
  • IRC Channel – IRC Rules & Guidelines for communicating with other Kali users.
  • How and Where to get Help – information about basic troubleshooting and the different sources of documentation available.

To keep up with developments and news associated with Kali Lin ux there is a blog.


The Download page includes the following installation options:

  • Installer, Live & NetInstaller ISO images for Kali Linux 32-bit & 64-bit
  • VMware, VirtualBox & Hyper-V virtual images for Kali Linux 32-bit & 64-bit
  • Build scripts & images for Kali ARM


Kali Linux comes with 600+ tools covering the following areas:

  • Information Gathering
  • Vulnerability Analysis
  • Exploitation Tools
  • Wireless Attacks
  • Forensics Tools
  • Web Applications
  • Stress Testing

Take a look at our previous article ‘Snapshot of available Tools for Pentesting‘ which outlines some of the key tools – both GUI (Graphical User Interface) and CLI (Command Line Interface).

Do you have any comment or experiences you want to share about Kali Linux? If so then please comment below.

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