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How to Install Kali Linux | A Total Guide to Install Kali Linux

Kali Linux is a specialized Linux distribution focusing on penetration testers and digital forensic Kali Linux have many pre-installed tools for cyber security. So installing Kali Linux can be very useful, but how to install Kali Linux ?

There are many ways to install Kali Linux even we can also install Kali Linux on USB drives and cloud.

install kali linux

We are going to discuss about all the possible ways to install Kali Linux in this detailed post.

Kali Linux can be installed in following ways:-
  1. Install Kali Linux on Windows PC (Virtual Machine).
  2. Install Kali Linux with Windows dual boot.
  3. Install Kali Linux on Mac/OS X.
  4. Install Kali Linux as primary OS.
  5. Install Kali Linux on Android.
  6. Install Kali Linux on Raspberry Pi.
  7. Install Kali Linux on USB drive.
  8. Install Kali Linux on cloud.
  9. Install Kali Linux over network (PXE/iPXE).
  10. Install Kali Linux Encrypted disk.
  11. BTRFS install Kali Linux.
  12. Install Kali Linux LXD images on other Linux Distro

1. Install Kali Linux on Windows PC (VMWare)

We can very easily install Kali Linux virtually on Windows system using Virtual Machine. This is probably the easiest method to install Kali Linux for new comers.

kali on VMWARE

We can install VMware or Virtual Box on Windows then install Kali Linux image file on VMware.

But installing a custom VMware for Kali Linux will be good for beginners, using official custom VMware we can simply install Kali Linux without errors.


  • Super easy to install.
  • If anything goes wrong in virtual machine, it will not effect main Windows system.


  • It uses our hardware resources, so it need high end PC.
  • This install might slower compared to dual boot or primary install.
To know how to install Kali Linux custom VMware image on Windows we can follow this tutorial.

2. Install Kali Linux with Windows dual boot

Installing Kali Linux alongside Windows is a smarter idea then virtual install. This install require experience on OS installations and boot menu.

Windows is usually stored in our C drive, but we can install Kali Linux on any other drive (like D, E etc) and boot from the drive.

We can switch Windows to Kali Linux and Kali Linux to Windows by restarting and changing some settings in boot menu.


  • Uses full hardware resources (CPU,RAM,GPU), that's why it becomes faster then virtual install.
  • We do not need to remove Windows.


  • Hard drive divided between both OS, and there are an issue that Windows cannot read the Kali Linux partition.
To install Kali Linux with dual boot with Windows we follow this tutorial.

3. Install Kali Linux on mac or OS X

As windows we can install Kali Linux on Mac using virtual environment and dual boot. Some MacBook models are small in size and powerful enough that makes it very portable. Portability is good for a red team attack.

kali on Mac


  • Portability with power is very good.
  • It is easy to create snapshots, and even easier to roll back.


  • In some cases, Linux kernel don't recognize some of the hardware components of our mac.
  • Kali can be easily run on low cost PC, so don't need a MacBook for this.
Install Kali Linux on Mac the process will be same as Windows, we can check following process
  1. Install Kali Linux on Mac (Single Boot).
  2. Install Kali Linux on Mac (Dual Boot).

4. Install Kali Linux as Primary OS

Before January 2020, Kali Linux have root (SuperUser) default user, because many tools of Kali Linux requires root privileges to run this makes very handy to attack with Kali Linux but it also reduces our security. That's why in Kali Linux 2020.1 introduced non-root user by default.

We can install Kali on any PC or Desktop with 2 GB RAM and 20 GB of disk space.

If anyone asks to us that is it worth installing Kali as primary OS ?
After the 2020.1 update we will say "Yes". Non-root user is the best update to use Kali as all time use OS. It also good for noobs.

But some advanced and accustomed user will not like this update.


  • Installing Kali Linux is good for advanced users.
  • We can use Kali as all time use system by installing some media and office tools.
  • Single Boot install is fastest.


  • Installing Kali Linux as a primary OS can make trouble to new users.
  • Kali Linux is made for attacking it not care much about security.
To install Kali Linux as primary OS we need to download the installer file of Kali Linux from

Then flash it on USB drive and then install it, as we did on dual boot. In dual boot install we installed Kali on a separated drive but when we install it as main drive.

We can follow this guide.

5. Install Kali Linux on Android

There are lots of ways to install Kali Linux on Android. The best possible way is installing Kali Nethunter on supported phones.

To install Kali Nethunter official we need some special model Android phones with root permission.

kali nethunter on Android
Image source

There are also an official method to install Kali Nethunter without root devices. It is called Nethunter Rootless.


  • This Kali Linux very portable.
  • Nethunter can do HID attacks (a-la-teensy), BadUSB MITM and Wi-Fi attacks.


  • Mobile keyboards doesn't feel the same as PC.
  • Display is small in case of command line uses.
  • Nethunter Rootless doesn't provide root interface, database support.
To install Kali Linux on Android smartphones we can use following tutorials:
  1. Kali Nethunter official method.
  2. Kali Nethunter Rootless official method.
  3. Kali Nethunter unofficial method.

6. Install Kali Linux on Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is Single Board Computer (SBC). Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized computer which costs very low. We ca install Kali Linux on it. This install can be used with small or bigger displays with HDMI.
Kali on raspberry

We also can use headless (without monitor), headless systems are operated from other devices via SSH.


  • Low budget Kali Linux machine.
  • Ultra portability makes it very handy in red team attack as Mr. Robot.
  • Four USB ports, HDMI port, LAN port, GPIO pins increase connectivity options.


  • With low powered processor it runs slow.
  • Need external power source.
Install Kali Linux on Raspberry Pi is a good option we can install it through this detailed tutorial.

7. Install Kali Linux on USB drive

Kali Linux can be installed on a persistence bootable  USB drive, such as pen drive.

With this install we can carry our Kali Linux system by carrying only our thumb drive.

We can boot from this drive on any system and run Kali Linux to perform penetration testing.This will be batter then virtual machine install because it uses all the hardware resources.


  • This uses all our system resources like CPU, RAM, GPU etc.
  • Doesn't take space in our hard drive.
  • No need to tunneling our internal wireless adapter into Ethernet.


  • We need a PC to run the bootable drive.
  • Pen drive's speed is compared to hard disks, means it will effect.
We have a detailed tutorial to install Kali Linux on a USB drive with persistence. Have a look on this tutorial.

8. Install Kali Linux on Cloud

Sometimes we need to quickly set up Kali Linux during penetration testing jobs, for this we can install Kali Linux on Amazon Web Services (AWS). This install is very handy and ultra portable for this modern day.

Installing Kali Linux on AWS

It is eligible for Free Tire, we can use it to set up our EC2 for free. This is fair enough and everyone should try this.


  • Multi platform support like Windows , Linux, Mac, Android.
  • This install does not consume our system resources or memory.
  • Very easy to install.
  • Ultra portable
  • Fixed IP and port forwarding is available.


  • Free Tire provides 1GB RAM, Kali officially recommended for 2GB. Works a bit slow in Free Tire.
  • Free services available for a year only.
Kali Linux AWS install is a grate choice, every pentester should try this. Here is our detailed guide.

9. Install Kali Linux over Network (PXE/iPXE)

Boot and install Kali Linux over network (PXE) is useful from a single laptop which doesn't have USB or CD/ROM ports or we need to install on many PC together.

Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) is the most frequent choice to install Kali over network.
For this install we need DHCP server and some PXE-embeded clients.

This process used in modern data centers for operating system booting, installation and deployment.


  • Suits for one-to-many install.
  • No PXE server reconfiguration required for each target server.
  • Centralized repository for all boot images.


  • Potential security issue.
  • DHCP/BOOTP server required.
  • UDP trasport used.
To install Kali Linux over the network (PXE Boot) we can follow the official detailed method to install Kali Linux over network.

10. Install Kali Linux Encrypted Disk

At time, we store sensitive data in our PC, we would prefer to encrypt the total disk where Kali is install.

With Kali Linux installer we can encrypt the install on hard disk or USB drives using full disk encryption.


  • Increase data security.
  • Auto encrypts data.


  • Didn't protect data in transit.
  • Slow down our computer little bit.
  • Can't recover our own data.
This installation of Kali Linux is very similar to normal install. We can easily install from this detailed guide.

11. BTRFS install of Kali Linux

BTRFS (B-Tree file system) is a new CoW (Copy on Write) file system of Linux aimed implementing advanced features such as pooling, snapshots, checksums and integrated multi-device spanning.

BTRFS attractive for Kali installation on bare metal.


  • Built-in Copy on Write.
  • Powerful snapshot capabilities.
  • SSD optimization.
  • Online file system management.


  • Maximum volume / file size is fixed (16 Exabytes).
  • No built-in encryption support. We need to encrypting the partition our self.
To install BTRFS check this official detailed guide.

12. Install Kali Linux LXD Image on Ubuntu

Let’s see how easy it is to launch a Kali LXD container image in Ubuntu.
To get this running, you need LXD installed. In Ubuntu we can install LXD as a snap package.

Once installed we launch a Kali Linux container image, install some additional packages and create a non-root user. The whole procedure should only take a few minutes before we can log in. The steps are following:
  1. Install LXD
  2. Launch a Kali container
  3. Install additional packages inside the container
  4. Create non-root user
  5. Login
For more details we can follow re4son's detailed post.


  • Easy to install
  • Easy to hide penetration testing jobs under a normal distro.


  • It uses hardware resources of same computer.
  • It makes a little bit slow then a fresh install.

There are another install image called mini ISO. This is for 512 MB RAM or lower end devices. We didn't list this because it's all similar with fresh install.

So many ways to install Kali Linux. We covered single boot install, dual boot install on Windows and Mac. Also learned how to install Kali on Android, Raspberry Pi, Pen drive even on cloud. We have learned Kali can be installed from Network also. Those are very useful for security professionals.

Follow us for useful cyber security tutorials, for latest update join us on Twitter or Medium. Did we miss any way to install Kali Linux ? Comment down if we miss anything.
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Post a Comment
  • PalCobra photo
    PalCobraMay 26, 2020 at 12:34 PM

    What if I want to install Kali on External Hard Drive. Does it work as install on USB?

    Thank you!

    Delete Comment
    • Kali Linux photo
      Kali LinuxMay 26, 2020 at 10:47 PM

      Hi PalCobra,
      It will work, but for the better performance we need to use high speed External hard drive (SSD will be the the best). Normal hard disk will also work.

      Delete Comment