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How to install Kali Linux?

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  • 4 min read

Kali Linux is the most popular penetration-testing Linux distro out there. The OS features hundreds of tools and utilities to help carry out various tasks. Most hacking and penetration testing beginners use it as their go-to OS.

However, all those tools and utilities mean there’s also an added layer of complexity to it. While most Linux distros are relatively straightforward, Kali is a bit different.

In this case, we get started with Kali Linux with a step-by-step guide on installing and getting it up and running on your system.

Also read: How to update Kali Linux?

How to install Kali Linux?

There are two ways you can run Kali on your system

  • Using a bootable Pendrive
  • Installing as your Primary/Secondary OS

Kali has been built from the ground up, keeping mobility and forensics in mind, and that’s precisely why I prefer running it from a bootable drive, and I suggest the same. However, the steps aren’t different should you decide to install it.

Step 1: Getting the right version

Kali has had a lot of iterations in the past and has a rich history of updates. If you plan to dive deep into it, I suggest the full version. Make sure that you choose the right architecture as well.

You can download Kali here
How to install Kali Linux in 3 easy steps? | Candid.Technology
Make sure to pick the right version

In case, you’re running Kali on something lighter (like the Raspberry Pi), you can also go for the light version. Keep in mind that a lot of tools will be missing here, though.

Step 2: Creating an installation media

You’ll need a USB drive with a minimum of 8 GB capacity—ideally 16GB. An SD/microSD card with a card reader will also work; just the interface needs USB (unless your system supports booting from an SD card).

Burn it to the USB drive once you’ve downloaded the image file, and you’ll be ready to go. If you’re on Windows, the simplest way is to download Win32 Disk Imager, select the image, select the USB drive and click on write. You can also use Rufus in case you want more control over the bootable drive.

How to install Kali Linux in 3 easy steps? | Candid.Technology

Linux users can use Etcher. It works exactly like Win32 Disk Imager on Windows.

Step 3: Booting/Installing

Once you finish the burning part, you can plug in and boot from the USB drive. Select the USB drive during the boot process, and you’ll see the Kali boot menu, where you can go ahead and install or just run it off the drive itself.

How to install Kali Linux in 3 easy steps? | Candid.Technology
The boot menu has all the options you need to go further

Installation is a pretty straightforward process, and apart from selecting the drive/partition you want to install Kali on, you don’t need to do anything.

Also read: How to restore USB drive after making it bootable?


If you’re running into any errors while booting up, this could be because of your BIOS settings. However, it’s always a good idea to return and ensure you burned your drive correctly.

How to install Kali Linux in 3 easy steps? | Candid.Technology

Once you know that, head into your BIOS settings and disable Secure Boot. You’ll also need to change the boot mode between UEFI and Legacy, which should fix all the problems.

Pro tip: If you’re installing Kali alongside Windows, it is a good idea to go ahead and disable Fast Startup in Windows, as it won’t let Kali use your drive apart from the partition where it is installed.

Also read: How to check the OS version in Linux?

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: