What Is Kali Linux and Why Is It Recommended to Hackers?

In the world of digital security, penetration testing plays a significant role in securing organizations’ data and even private information. Ethical hacking has become a valuable and a rewarding skill since there is a definite requirement for trained personnel in cybersecurity. Many tools and services have been developed to aid these white hat hackers in their penetration testing exploits, one of which is the operating system known as Kali Linux.

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What Is Kali Linux?

Kali Linux, known initially as BackTrack Linux, is a free and open-source Linux-based operating system geared at advanced penetration testing and security auditing. Kali Linux has hundreds of tools that perform different information security activities, including penetration testing, security research, computer forensics, and reverse engineering.

It is a cross-platform solution that is easily accessible and offered for free to information security experts and enthusiasts. Debian has been a very reliable and stable distribution for many years, offering a solid base for the Kali Linux desktop.

To better understand the position of Kali Linux in the ethical hacking world, let us take a look at the history of Kali Linux and its origin.

History of Kali Linux

Kali Linux is based on years of knowledge and expertise in developing penetration testing operating systems gained from previous projects. Because the crew has always been small, just a few distinct developers have worked on each of these projects. As a result, Kali has been in the making for years and has come a long way.


  1. The original project was called Whoppix, which stood for WhiteHat Knoppix. It was based on Knoppix for the underlying OS, as implied by the name. Whoppix has versions ranging from v2.0 to v2.7. This cleared the door for the next project, WHAX (or the longhand, WhiteHat Slax).
  2. The name change resulted from the transition of the underlying operating system from Knoppix to Slax. WHAX began with v3, as a hint to it continuing from Whoppix. At the same time, a comparable operating system Auditor Security Collection, which was sometimes abbreviated to just Auditor was being developed, again utilizing Knoppix, and efforts were merged with WHAX to generate BackTrack.
  3. From version 1 to version 3, BackTrack was based on Slackware, but it was based on Ubuntu from version 4 to version 5. Using the knowledge gathered from all of this, Kali Linux went after BackTrack in 2013. Kali began using Debian stable as the engine beneath the hood before switching to Debian testing when Kali became a rolling OS.

We have discussed what is Kali Linux and learned about its origin. Now let’s look at some of the more prominent features Kali has to offer to penetration testers.

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Features of Kali Linux


  • Pre-installed Tools: The latest version of Kali Linux has over 600 penetration tools pre-installed. After thoroughly examining each tool offered in BackTrack, developers deleted many scripts that did not work or copied other services that provided the same or comparable functionality.
  • Safe Development Team: The Kali Linux team comprises a small number of people who are the only ones trusted to contribute packages and communicate with the repository, all while utilizing various security protocols. Restricting access of essential codebases to external assets substantially minimizes the danger of source contamination.
  • Multilingual OS: Although penetration tools are often designed in English, Kali's developers have ensured that it contains genuine multilingual support, allowing more users to work in their local language and locate the tools they require for their penetration testing journey.
  • ARM Support: Kali Linux is accessible on a broad range of ARM devices, and ARM repositories are integrated with the mainline version, so the tools mentioned above are updated in tandem with the rest of the distribution.

In the next topic of our article on what is Kali Linux, we learn about the variety of ways by which we can install Kali Linux and start our ethical hacking exploits.

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Ways to Install Kali Linux

There are four distinct ways to use Kali Linux on a personal computer.


  • Live USB Mode: Kali Linux can be flashed to a USB stick of a minimum of 8 GB storage capacity. Some cases allow persistent storage in Live USBs, but those require further configuration. After the ISO image is flashed, the stick can boot a working installation of the operating system.
  • Hard Disk Installation: To make sure the changes made to the system are permanent, one can install Kali Linux on a hard disk, overwriting any other data or OS. While live boot desktop cleans user data on reboot, the hard disk installations' modifications are permanent.
  • Virtualization: Kali Linux can be run as an operating system in a host OS as a virtual machine instance. The hardware requirements are completely customizable. Using both a host machine and guest operating system like Kali Linux allows users a safe environment to learn while not putting their systems at risk.
  • Dual-Boot: In this scenario, Kali Linux OS will not be overwriting any pre-installed operating system on a machine but will be installed alongside it. Many people prefer to keep both Windows and Kali Linux installed, so the distribution of work and recreational activities is also effectively split between the two.

With this, we have come to the end of our lesson on what is Kali Linux and its various features and offerings.

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How Can Simplilearn Help You?

With Kali Linux as the go-to Linux distribution for ethical hackers, one must use it with suitable study material. The operating system is very well polished for professional use and personal learning, so the tutorials for the appropriate tools and techniques are recommended to be top-notch as well.

Simplilearn offers a Cybersecurity Expert course to help you get started or develop your career in cybersecurity. There are no notable requirements for this program, and the beginning module will get you up to speed. Because the course concentrates on highly in-demand certification courses, you'll be qualified for the highest-paying professions presently available in the sector. The need for trained cybersecurity personnel is very high, and it couldn't be a more appropriate time to follow through with this program.


In today's lesson, we learned about what is Kali Linux, how it came into existence, its distinct advantages, and the variety of ways we can use it while penetration testing. To learn more about Kali Linux, you can watch the video on the Simplilearn youtube channel by visiting this link: What Is Kali Linux? | What Is Kali Linux And How To Use It? | Kali Linux Tutorial | Simplilearn

If there are any concerns, queries, or suggestions regarding the topic explained, please mention them in the comments below, and we will get back to you with their solutions.

About the Author

Baivab Kumar JenaBaivab Kumar Jena

Baivab Kumar Jena is currently working as a research analyst for Simplilearn while being the in-house expert on all things cyber security and online privacy. A computer science engineering graduate, he is well versed with multiple coding languages such as C/C++, Java and Python.

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