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Home / Tips and Tricks / How to get started with Kali Linux 2020 «Zero Byte :: WonderHowTo

How to get started with Kali Linux 2020 «Zero Byte :: WonderHowTo

Kali Linux has come a long way since its BackTrack days, and it is still widely regarded as the ultimate Linux distribution for penetration testing. The system has undergone quite a transformation since its old days and includes an updated look, improved performance and some significant changes to how it is used.

Offensive Security is the team behind Kali Linux, a Debian-based system. Kali is the weapon of choice on Null Byte, and you can install it as your primary system (not recommended), use it with dual boot, use it in a virtual workstation or create a portable live version on a USB flash drive.

We will guide you through a very basic installation today, enough to get you started and follow with the Zero Byte guides. In fact, there are many things that can be done to customize the installation, but we just want the fast and dirty process.

What's new in Kali Linux?

In Kali Linux version 2019.4, released At the end of 2019, Offensive Security made significant changes to how Kali looks and feels. And its 2020.1 update, released in January 2020, was based on the new foundation.

Perhaps the most important update is the default desktop environment, which is now Xfce, a change most frequently made for performance-related issues. For most users, GNOME is exaggerated and a lightweight desktop environment like Xfce provides lower costs, resulting in smoother and faster performance. For all the tough GNOME fans out there, the previous desktop environment is still supported and even has an updated GTK3 theme.

Other new features include the introduction of undercover mode, new public packaging and documentation processes, an update to Kali NetHunter, the addition of PowerShell, non-root users are now standard, and other bug fixes and updates.

Choosing the Right Kali Linux

To get started, navigate to kali.org and go to the download page, where you can choose from a variety of images.

Available images include Kali Linux for both 64-bit and 32-bit architectures (via Installer), Little Editions (via NetInstaller) and Live versions, and there are links to downloads for the ARM architecture and VMware and VirtualBox virtual machines. How you want to use Kali is entirely up to you.

  • The " Installer " links are for Intel-based computers and contain a copy of the standard packages. You can install Kali later with them without internet connection. These are good if Kali will be your primary operating system or part of a dual-boot system. For best performance without sacrificing your preferred primary system, dual booting is best.
  • " NetInstaller " links are much smaller than those installed because they do not contain copies of the packages to be installed. These are only recommended if you do not have enough bandwidth to download a full version, as you probably want to install the missing packages at a later date.
  • " VM " links are for installing Kali as a virtual machine on your primary system. The two virtual environments are compatible with VirtualBox (free) and VMware Workstation (not free). These are great options for Null Byte readers, as you can practice hooking between systems on a computer, which can prevent you from breaking cyber security laws. However, keep in mind that a decent amount of RAM is needed for everything to work smoothly, and to perform all wireless hacking, you need an external wireless adapter, one that you can put in monitor mode, preferably.
  • Kali NetHunter is not listed for mobile devices, but you can find them on the Offensive Security website. They work on various Android devices, such as OnePlus, Sony Xperia and Nexus models.

If you want to run an older version of Kali, you can visit its older image index. While Kali 2020.1 replaced root users with non-root users by default, you might want to install a 2019 version instead, which still gives you most of the latest features offered. In this guide, I'm installing version 2019.4 as my primary system because I want to maintain the root user's default.

Once you have decided how you want to run Kali, click on the image name to download it. You can also hit the link "Torrent" instead if it will do the job better.

Installing Kali Linux

The process for installing Kali Linux will be different depending on which version you chose. VirtualBox, see our previous article on using Kali in VirtualBox on a Mac; The article is a bit old, but the process is generally the same and works on Windows. For help installing Live Images, the Wizard of Kitten, a Zero Byte reader, may be of some help.

I downloaded the image of Kali 2019.4 64-bit installer and burned ISO to a disk, and that is what I will show you today. After opening the installer, the Start menu offers several options. We keep it simple and do the graphic installation. At least 20 GB of disk space is recommended.

Then select the language and keyboard layout options.

Th en, enter a host name for the system.

Then set a password for the root user. Remember that if you install 2020.1 or higher, there is no root user by default, just a non-root user, but you can also set a custom password for the user.

Now set the desired time zone to configure the clock:

After that we can start partitioning the disk. We keep it simple again and use the "Guided" method. In my case the method "user disk".

After everything is configured, the changes are written to disk.

And the installation will start. It may take some time to do so.

A network mirror can be used to update the software during installation. If you are connected to a network, it usually makes sense to do so.

The GRUB boot loader must also be installed to allow the operating system to boot.

Finally, the installation is complete. Now we can restart the machine and restart in the new system.

When Kali starts, we will be presented with a new login prompt, which looks very different from Kali. version 2019.3 and older. If you installed 2019.4, the credentials would be the host name you chose and the root password you created, or the non-root user and password you created. For 2020.1 and later, "kali" and "kali" are the default user information for some installations as in VirtualBox. (The default voice user information used to be "root" and "toor.")

Now we can see the newly designed desktop, which uses the Xfce environment. [19659045] How to get started with Kali Linux 2020 ” width=”532″ height=”532″ style=”max-width:532px;height:auto;”/>

The icons, file system and terminal all have new themes. You may want to take some time to find your way through the new environment. There are also tools that we suggest you install directly on your Kali building, including Git, a terminal multiplexer, Tor, a code editor, and so on.

The menu at the top left, depicted by the Kali icon, is where all your tools and settings are located. Hacking tools are categorized by topics ranging from social technology to post-utilization and password attacks. While the graphical user interface menu for applications is nice, you can also launch any of these tools from the command line interface in a terminal window.

How the new undercover mode works

Kali now has an undercover mode, designed to look like Windows for the temporary viewer. This is handy if you need to look less suspicious, whether in public or during a professional pent test. Just enter kali-undercover in the terminal to run the script and transform the environment.

Even the menu and file manager are designed to look like Windows.

To change back to the normal desktop environment, just enter the command in the terminal again.

How PowerShell works in New Kali

Kali now includes PowerShell, which makes it easy to work with and run PowerShell scripts directly on the system. It can be installed with the package manager. If you are not a root user, add sudo to the beginning of the command below.

  ~ # apt install powershell

Reading Package Lists ... Ready
Building dependent trees
Reading information about the state ... Ready


To run it, simply enter pwsh in the terminal, and we are entered into a PowerShell prompt.

  ~ # pwsh

PowerShell 6.2.3
Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Enter "help" for help.

PS / root> 

Docs & Public Packaging

Kali now puts more power in the hands of society by letting the public get more involved. All documentation is now available in markdown a public Git archive – anyone can contribute with merge requests. There are also plans for all documentation to be included in each image of Kali, making it possible to access offline.

Another change involves the packaging of new tools. There is now documentation on how to create new packages to be included in Kali. Once a new tool has been unpacked, it can be submitted for approval.

The default user that is not rooted in 2020.1 & Up

If you installed 2020.1 or later, you had to create an administrator user versus a root user. To use Kali at the root level, you can use sudo -s or sudo -i or sudo su to get it in your current shell. You can also create a root password when you have root prompt; use passwd root and create the password. Afterwards, you can only use su to open root access in your shell.

Alternatively, you can set passwordless permissions when using sudo with the following command. [19659058] ~ $ sudo apt install -y kali-grant-root && sudo dpkg-reconfigure kali-grant-root

Other Features

Kali also has some other new features. The kernel was updated to version 5.3.9 in 2019.4, but it is currently at 5.5.17 from May 13, 2020. Another addition is the use of BTRFS (b-tree file system), which allows rollback of changes on only metal installation , just like the snapshot feature used in a VM.

The 2019.4 version of Kali is also the latest version that supports 8 GB SD card for ARM, so if it is 2020.1 or higher you want, you need a 16 GB card. Kali NetHunter also gets an update. With the new NetHunter Kex, an HDMI output can be connected to an Android device, plus a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. – it basically creates a complete Kali desktop experience right from your phone.

The 2020.1 build introduced three common Nethunter versions, one for rooted devices with custom reset and corrected kernel, one for rooted devices with custom reset and no custom kernel, and one for unprocessed devices.

Wrapping Up

In this article, we covered the latest Kali Linux releases, their new features, and went through the basic installation that beginners could work with. For more advanced installations, for example, if you want to verify the checksum, double-boot Kali with Windows, Mac or Linux, encrypt the disk, and so on, check out Kali's official documents.

It's the same old Kali that you know and love, but with a new look and better performance. With these exciting new changes, one thing is for sure – Kali Linux remains the king of the incredible distros.

Don't Miss: Top 10 Things to Do After Installing Kali Linux

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Cover image and screenshots of drd_ / Null Byte

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