Kali Linux is a Debian-based Linux Operating System (OS). This OS is primarily targeted for users who are interested in performing penetration testing and security auditing. With other Linux distributions, you are usually required to independently install programs and libraries to perform penetration testing and security auditing. With Kali Linux however, that is not the case, worst case scenario all you would need to do is update the system through the command line or the Graphical User Interface (GUI). Kali Linux was initially named BackTrack Linux and was rebranded and renamed to Kali Linux on March 13th, 2013 as a complete, top-to-bottom rebuild following the Debian development standards.
Several features changed and stayed the same when BackTrack Linux grew up to become Kali Linux. Since Kali Linux is primarily focused towards professionals for penetration testing, all the documentation on their website assumes prior knowledge of, and familiarity, with Linux operating system in general. This means it is highly recommended before using Kali Linux it is best to use a different Linux distribution so you may learn basics and fundamentals. If not, you may find yourself researching and Googling quite a bit to find answers. Just like other Linux distributions, Kali Linux is also free of charge and you should never have to pay for it. Also, most of the time Kali Linux is installed on a virtual machine which makes it convenient to run inside another operating system and there are premade virtual machine images available to download on their website.
There are several features in Kali Linux out of the box and several others that can be installed like every other operating system. Most, if not all features that initially come with Kali Linux is geared toward penetration and security auditing. A few of those features are:
More Than 600 Penetrations Testing Tools Included - After Kali Linux was rebranded from Backtrack several tools were removed and added based on what worked and did not. On top of that several tools that performed the same tasks were removed entirely and/or consolidated. You can find a full list of what is included here.
Kali Linux, as stated above, is mainly geared toward users who are intending to use the system for penetration testing and/or security auditing. In order for Kali Linux to achieve this goal, there were several core changes that had to be implemented, one of which is, network services being disabled by default. This means, that most of the networking services are not functional unless you manually go in and enabled it. For example, the Bluetooth service is blacklisted by default and you must manually start this service. This is normally started through the command line; however, we are sure there is a way to start the services through a GUI of sorts. There is also a minimal set of repositories added initially which could be expanded later down the road manually. The goal of doing this is to maintain the integrity of the system as a whole, and because of that, only essential softwares that are needed for penetration testing and security auditing is included.
If you are not looking to use this as your regular desktop and you are learning how to perform penetration testing and/or security auditing then Kali Linux could work for you. We would like to add, this can only work for you if you have prior knowledge of the Linux environment. If you have never used Linux, and you are planning on using Kali Linux to use to get your feet wet, then we strongly discourage you from using this distribution and possibly use Ubuntu instead, at least till you understand how Linux works a bit more. The main reason we advise this is because even for experienced users Kali Linux can be challenging. Even though you can customize Kali Linux, that doesn’t mean you can add any repository and packages to the OS. You will not be able to add some packages and repositories because they are considered “out of band”.
Keep in mind everything you do with this operating system is at your own risk. You can easily break an entire network using this operating system, as well as, cause irreparable damages. So, make sure you understand the personal and/or legal consequences. What we mean by that is, by saying “You did not understand what you were doing” will not work as an excuse and you will be held liable or responsible for any violations or damage. That being said, if you are a professional penetration tester or if you are studying penetration testing or even security auditing and your goal is to become certified or gain knowledge, this currently might be the best option out there. If you are looking to learn Linux or Kali Linux, it may be beneficial to look into Udemy. Udemy is an online platform where you can learn a list of different skills through online classes. The classes are not all free, however, they do not cost an arm and a leg. From what our team says there are things you can learn on Udemy that could help a lot and are not limited to security or penetration topics. The best part is if you forget something you learned, or you are trying to reference something you saw, you can always go back and check it in your account because you always have access to all the courses and classes you purchased in your own library.
There are a few ways you can go about installing Kali Linux. We will roughly go over two options that are most common. First and possibly the most common way people use Kali Linux is by installing it in a virtual machine. This can be done using several tools such as Virtual Box, VMWare, Parallels Desktop, QUEM, etc. Each tool has its own method on how to set things up so we cannot provide a step by step tutorial on how to install the operating system each of them. However, there are several available on YouTube if needed, and if there is demand in knowing how to do this, we will make another blog to cover this topic. The other option you could use is, installing the operating system like you would with any other operating system. The steps are fairly simple and brief: