How to Install Kali Linux

Get a Penetration Testing platform up and running

Penetration Testing is a way to test your desktop and servers for vulnerabilities. Several tools accomplish this task, some are single-purpose and some include a multitude of tools. There are also entire distributions dedicated to the testing of vulnerabilities (and more). Kali Linux is one such distribution.

What You Can Do With Kali Linux

With this Linux platform, you have everything necessary for:

  • Information gathering
  • Vulnerability analysis
  • Wireless attacks testing
  • Exploitation testing
  • Stress testing
  • Forensics tools
  • Sniffing and spoofing testing
  • Password attack testing
  • Reverse engineering

But how do you get this powerhouse penetration testing platform installed? Let's find out.

Download Kali Linux ISO

The first thing you must do is download the Kali Linux ISO image that suits your computer's architecture (for example, 32-bit or 64-bit). Once you have the file downloaded, burn the image onto a USB flash drive.

Make sure you have a flash drive with at least 8 GB of available free space (otherwise, you run the risk of not having enough room to house the entire ISO). Don't use a USB drive with data you want to keep, as the data is deleted during the flashing of the image.

Install Kali

With the image burned to a flash drive, insert it into the target computer, and boot the machine. Depending on the make and model of your computer, you might need to open the boot menu and instruct the system to boot from the USB device. 

Once booted, here are the steps for installing Kali Linux:

  1. On the first screen, select Graphical install.

    Screenshot of the Kali Linux greeter.
  2. Select your language of choice, then click Continue.

    Screenshot of the language selection window.
  3. Select your location, then click Continue.

    Screenshot of the location selection window.
  4. Select your keyboard configuration, then click Continue.

    Screenshot of the keyboard selection window.
  5. Kali automatically detects and configures the network interface. When the network configuration is complete, type a hostname (or leave the default), then click Continue.

    Screenshot of the hostname configuration window.
  6. At the domain name section, leave it blank, then click Continue. If you use this on a personal network, you can type anything (such as test.lan or mynetwork.local), or leave it blank.

    Screenshot of the domain name configuration window.
  7. Type (and verify) a password for the root (admin) user, then click Continue.

    Screenshot of configuring the root password.
  8. Select your time zone, then click Continue.

    Screenshot of the timezone configuration.
  9. Select Guided - use entire disk, then click Continue.

    Screenshot of the partition window.
  10. Select the disk to be used, then click Continue.

    If your computer has more than one disk, select the correct disk (one that doesn't contain data you wish to keep).

    Screenshot of the disk selection window.
  11. Select All files in one partition, then click Continue.

    Screenshot of the disk partitioning type window.
  12. Select Yes, then click Continue.

    Screenshot of the partition acceptance window.
  13. Allow the installation to complete.

  14. Once the installation completes (it takes between two and five minutes, depending on the speed of your computer), click Continue so you can select a network mirror (to be used to install third-party packages).

    Screenshot of the network mirror configuration.
  15. Unless you need a proxy (which you probably don't), press Continue. In the next window, you are asked if you want to install the GRUB boot loader. This is essential (otherwise, Kali Linux won't boot). Keep the default (Yes), then click Continue

    Screenshot of the GRUB bootloader configuration.
  16. Select the drive that will house the bootloader. Chances are, this will be /dev/sda (which should appear automatically). Select /dev/sda, then click Continue

    Screenshot of the bootloader location configuration window.
  17. You will be informed when the installation is complete. Click Continue. Your computer will reboot. Remove the USB drive and allow the computer to boot. Eventually, you'll find yourself at the login screen, where you type root as the user and then type the password you created during the installation.

  18. Kali Linux is now installed and ready to be used. Select Applications to see all the available applications to help you begin testing your network and computers for various vulnerabilities.