An Easy Guide to Install Kali Linux on a Virtual Machine

Filed Under: UNIX/Linux
Kali Linux

Let’s learn to install Kali Linux on a Virtual machine today. If you want to venture into the field of cybersecurity, Kali Linux offers you all the tools ready and set up for you to start playing around with.

And when it comes to security testing, no Linux-based distribution comes near the reputation of Kali Linux. As Kali was designed to be installed on a portable medium to reduce tracking and improve at security, let’s walk through the simplest steps to have a functional and ready Kali installed on a Virtual machine.

What is Kali Linux?

Kali Linux is a Linux distribution made with the sole purpose of providing users with the best possible environment for ethical hacking, penetration testing and network security testing.

Developed and supported by Offensive Security, Kali Linux is a Debian-derived security Linux distribution

It comes with over a hundred pre-installed tools to aid users in digital forensics. Kali Linux has a reputation for being the best offensive OS for information security personnel and ethical hackers across the world.

Why is Kali Linux used?

Kali Linux is widely used in the fields of penetration testing, network security analysis, and digital forensics. It comes with over five hundred pre-loaded security tools.

It offers the users complete freedom to personalize their copy of the OS. Kali is hugely favored for being high quality, free and open-source operating system.

It is an OS developed within a secure environment and features custom kernel which is patched for injections. With a wide range of support in terms of wireless and linguistic accessibility, people install Kali Linux on their machines to avail the best possible tools for their information security needs.

How to install Kali Linux on a Virtual Machine?

Now that we are familiar with the idea behind Kali Linux, let us proceed to install it on our system. In this tutorial, we will install the latest stable release of Kali Linux which is 2020.1 at this point in writing. 

This installation will be made on a virtual machine using Oracle VM VirtualBox 6.1.6 version.


To install Kali Linux on our system, these are the minimum and recommended required specs.

Free Hard Disk space10 GB20 GB

Next, we need a working copy of the Oracle VirtualBox 6.1.6 version. This can be downloaded from the official VirtualBox website here.

Finally, we need to download the Virtualisation Format Archive file to install Kali Linux on our system. This file can be found on the Official Offensive Security website here.

Create and Setup the Virtual Machine

Now that we have all the pre-requisites ready, we can begin the tutorial to install Kali Linux on our virtual machine. So let us jump into it by starting the Oracle VM VirtualBox application on our machine.

Step 1: Go to the ‘File’ drop-down menu and choose the option which says ‘Import Appliance’.

Virtual Box New Machine
Virtual Box New Machine

Step 2: Select the location where your downloaded copy of Virtualisation Format Archive file to install Kali Linux is saved. Then click ‘Next’.

Import Appliance
Import Appliance

Step 3: Have a look at the application settings for your Virtual machine. Note that you need to allocate at least 2GB RAM to the virtual machine for a smooth experience. Press ‘Next’ to continue.

Allocate Resources
Allocate Resources

Step 4: Now, you need to agree to the Software License Agreement. Once you have gone through the agreement, press ‘Agree’ to continue.

License Agreement
License Agreement

Login and Set up Kali Linux

Step 5: Your new virtual machine has been created. Select it, and press start to launch your virtual Kali Linux machine.

Setup Complete
Setup Complete

Step 6: If you see the login screen as shown below, you have been successfully installed Kali Linux on your virtual machine. Use the username ‘kali’ and the same password to log onto the default Kali Linux 2020.1 default user account. These credentials come pre-generated with the virtualization archive image file.

Kali Login
Kali Login

Using your Kali Linux virtual machine

Now that we did install Kali Linux on our system, we need to discuss a crucial thing. An important change in Kali Linux 2020.1 and beyond is that there is no longer a superuser account.

The default account for Kali 2020.1 has the username and password ‘kali’. Now, you can use this non-privileged user if you are okay with it. Else you can create a new user. To do so, type the following command in the command line.

sudo adduser --home /newusername newusername

You will be asked to enter a new password for this user and retype it for confirmation. The remaining details are optional. Now you can log off from the current user and log into your new user. Here is a screenshot of how I created a user named ‘sirharry‘.

Create User Password
Create User Password

The other option is to switch to the root user. To do so, enter the following command in your Terminal Emulator.

sudo su

You would be asked to enter the password for the current user. Once you do, enter this command.

passwd root

Enter a new password and retype it for confirmation. Now, simply log off from the current user. You may now log into the root user with your new password. Here is a screenshot of the procedure.

Login To Root
Login To Root

Wrapping up

All the people who are serious about a career in the field of digital forensics and information security should install Kali Linux on their machines. This gives them access to high-quality security tools all ready to work with.

Kali Linux is the culmination of the Offensive Security team’s work towards developing a security focussed operating system. This work is passionately supported by the Kali Linux user community.

We hope that, through this tutorial, you were able to install Kali Linux on your system using the Oracle VM VirtualBox virtualization software. We proceeded to discuss the default user situation in Kali Linux 2020.1 before showing you how to enter the root user and create a new user.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or feedback, feel free to reach out to us through the comment section below.

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