Because Kali Linux is one of the operating systems of choice when it comes to offensive security, we will go over how to get Kali on a bootable USB.
What is Kali Linux?
Kali linux is basically a Debian-based linux distribution (or a collection of specific software in one package that usually includes a package management system) that is aimed at security auditing, penetration testing, and simply put, hacking.
While Kali is certainly a convenient tool, it is important to note that the software in Kali is available to download on other Linux based operating systems. In fact, many tools even have downloadable version that can be run on other operating systems like windows and mac.
In fact, you can turn practically any operating system into one useful for hacking. We, however, recommend at these early stages to use Kali and get familiar with it and using terminal, which we will soon write a tutorial on.
The above image is a snapshot of Kali linux.
Kali on Bootable USB.
First, make sure you are on a computer and download a copy of the 64bit Kali (disk image) file.
Note that the link above is the direct link to download the .iso which is 2.8 GB… so don’t download this on your phone or tablet!
If you want to download other version of Kali for your own projects or want to make sure you downloaded a verified copy of Kali, please visit https://www.kali.org/downloads/.
Once your ISO is downloaded, we need to install it onto your USB, which hopefully you have ready and formatted with no files on it because they will be erased in this process. If you have anything on your USB drive you need to save, please take the moment to save them and double and triple check because it will be extremely painful if you lose your data because you jumped into this.
For those of you who do not think you have anything important on your drive, we strongly recommend you check one more time…
NOW, we need to download a program which will ‘install’ the iso (not really) onto the USB drive.
You have a number of options here and depending on your operating system, you may want to select different programs or methods to do this.
We however, suggest you use https://unetbootin.github.io/ which is available on Mac OS, Windows, and Linux.
UNetbootin is a very simple program. This is what it looks like. Notice that if you wanted to install another operating system (open source operating systems like linux and ubuntu), you can simply select them in the first option. We, however, have a specific ISO (the one you downloaded of Kali) that we want to use.
All you need to do is to select the second option ‘Diskimage’ and click the ‘…’ button to select the ISO.
Once you have it selected, make sure it shows up in the space to the left of the ‘…’ button.
In this case we will also leave ‘Space used to preserve files across reboots (Ubuntu only)” at zero.
Now select USB Drive from the ‘Type’ dropdown and select the USB drive you want to format. Note that only one should show up if it is the only one plugged into your computer. If you are not sure, you can check which of the ‘/dev/xxx/’ name the USB is called by using Mac OSX’s Disk Utility, on Linux, you can run lsblk which should show:
NAME MAJ:MIN RM SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT sda 8:0 0 232.9G 0 disk ├─sda1 8:1 0 230.9G 0 part / ├─sda2 8:2 0 1K 0 part └─sda5 8:5 0 2G 0 part [SWAP] sdb 8:16 1 7.4G 0 disk └─sdb1 8:17 1 7.4G 0 part /media/3765-3233
Now look for your USB, if it is 8 GB then it is probably something like “sdb1 8:17 1 7.4G 0 part /media/3765-3233” which tells us that the USB is “/dev/sdb1/” and is what you should select in the dropdown menu.
PLEASE DOUBLE CHECK THIS!!! If you select a drive that is not yours or one that has valuable information on it, it would be a big disappointment. You have been warned!
Click okay and let the process being!!
Please be patient here! Depending on the speed of you machine and what else is running, this could take a few minutes, in some cases even as long as 15 minutes for some users with slower machines. Note the program seems to be stuck on the file “squashfs” but it is not stuck. This file just happens to be very large and can take some time! Be PATIENT and stick with it. If you abort or quit the process at this point, you will have to reformat the USB and begin the process again.
And that’s it! Now, we can start hacking!
NOTE: For some of you, you may get an error that says “The created USB device will not boot off a Mac. Insert it into a PC, and select the USB boot option in the BIOS boot menu.” This won’t be an issue for most of you… You can test the USB to make sure but this will typically result in the USB booting using EFI boot, which also (usually) happens to be the name of the bootable USB.