Kali Linux is a modern version of Linux aimed at users who are security experts or testers. It is a Debian-based operating system developed by Offensive Security, a leader in security. Kali is a descendant of BackTrack, a previously popular but now discontinued distribution. Kali Linux comes pre-installed with many advanced tools focused on security such as Nmap, Aircrack-ng, Wireshark. If you are a security enthusiast, then this is the ideal operating system for you.
Here are 15 things you need to know when using Kali Linux in 2021.
The developers created Kali Linux as an alternative to BackTrack. BackTrack is a powerful platform based on Knoppix Linux. Kali Linux is a revamp of BackTrack based on Debian and offers dozens of advanced features. Kali was developed to provide the full Linux Desktop experience. At the same time, BackTrack is a Live OS (directly on CD/DVD or USB without installing the hard drive).
Kali builds a fully featured Desktop environment for everyone to use. However, it is specifically aimed at the target group working in the security field.
Many people misunderstand that Kali is a distribution for Hackers. Actually, Kali is just an operating system with pre-installed security tools. All these tools can be installed in other Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint or CentOS. Kali only saves users the effort of installing these tools themselves.
You can install Kali OS on any x86, x86-64 and ARM platform. This is an open-source distribution that provides ISO images (for both VMware and ARM-based devices). However, you should download them from Kali’s homepage to ensure they are not tampered with. People who are just starting out often make the mistake of downloading Kali from unorthodox sources, leading to later attacks.
Kali requires 512MB of RAM and 3GB of hard drive for installation. However, to get the best experience, you should install them on an SSD and 2GB of RAM.
Kali solves several security-related issues through the implementation of a rolling release model. This is similar to Arch and Gentoo, systems that receive constant minor updates. This helps ensure that users always have the latest security tools and are patched with newly discovered bugs.
GNOME was the default desktop environment for Kali Linux until last year when it switched to XFCE (you can still get Kali with GNOME). This new XFCE environment improves performance and user experience quite a bit.
For advanced users, Kali also provides a KDE environment for easier access to deeper systems. In addition, you can choose from dozens of different desktop environments to use such as Cinnamon, MATE or LXDE.
Kali uses Debian’s package manager dpkg. You can easily install applications with the .deb extension. You can also install an RPM package using a tool like Alien to convert RPM to DEB.
To install applications from the terminal, use the apt command like many other distributions. Note that unknown sources should not be added to the /etc/apt/source.list file, it may mess up your system. Both Debian and Kali recommend this to users.
Drivers and Firmware
One downside of Kali is its weak support for drivers and firmware. Users may encounter Wi-Fi problems during use and have to manually install drivers and firmware to solve them.
Along with the GPU driver problem, even though Kali tries very hard to support Nvidia cards, users still often encounter compatibility problems. However, people use Linux not to play games, so this is not too serious.
Compatible with Windows
If you use Windows 10, there is still a way to access Kali’s tools via WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux).
Kali provides good support for WSL and allows users to install Kali on WSL. You will find some documentation on how to do this.
Kali Linux provides ISO images for VMware, VirtualBox, Hyper-V, and Vagrant, along with both Docker and LXC. That’s why you can install Kali on any virtualization platform without any difficulty.
As mentioned above, Kali supports many ARM devices such as Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone, Odroid, HP & Samsung Chromebook, etc. Currently, Kali also supports the Android operating system through Linux Deploy and Kali Linux NetHunter ROM.
Security and Privacy
Professionals can rely on Kali’s encryption methods to keep their machines and data secure. You can even encrypt a bootable Kali OS if you want. So overall, Kali is an excellent choice for both security researchers and privacy-worried users.
While all Linux distributions are very customizable, Kali takes it to the next level. Kali allows you to build your own operating system by modifying the source code and creating a custom ISO. The Kali Linux home page contains a lot of material for programmers to get started with their custom work.
Good documentation is essential for dedicated Linux distributions like Kali. Thankfully, the Kali developers understand this and provide excellent documentation containing detailed information on essential topics.
Moreover, there are many video tutorials as well as reputable books on Kali. If you are a seasoned security professional looking to master the functions, check out these resources.
Kali has a large community full of security experts who are always ready to help people with their problems, the growth of these communities is rooted in BackTrack.
The Offensive Security organization is responsible for maintaining Kali’s official website, blog, forum, IRC channel, Git repository, and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Kali offers a wide range of features not found on traditional Linux distributions. Kali Linux ISO of Doom is an example, it contains its own recipe to be able to build a custom image that can install itself, reverse VPM automatic connections, create network bridges, etc.
Users can easily set up Kali cloud instances on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud using the Amazon EC2 AWS image.
Some other notable features include accessibility for visually impaired users and multi-level live USB.
Kali Linux is known for its huge collection of security tools as well as privacy-focused features. If you want to learn penetration testing from scratch, it could be the ideal friend for you.