Introduction

Kali Linux is a Debian-derived Linux distribution designed for penetration testing. With over 600 preinstalled penetration-testing programs, it earned a reputation as one of the best-operating systems used for security testing. As a security-testing platform, it is best to install Kali as a VM on VirtualBox.

Kali has a rolling release model, ensuring up-to-date tools on your system. Also, there is an active community of users providing ongoing support.

This step by step tutorial shows you how to install Kali Linux on VirtualBox.

kali linux with arrow pointing to virtualbox

Prerequisites

  • At least 20 GB of disk space
  • At least 1 (preferably 2) GB of RAM for i386 and amd64 architectures
  • VirtualBox (or alternative virtualization software)

Steps For Installing Kali Linux on VirtualBox

Since these instructions take you through the installation process in a virtual environment, you need to ensure you have one set up on your system. In this example, we are using VirtualBox, as it is a simple to use, open-source virtualization solution.

In case you do not have VirtualBox installed,use this step-by-step VirtualBox insallation guide.

Step 1: Download Kali Linux ISO image

On the official Kali Linux website downloads section, you can find Kali Linux .iso images. These images are uploaded every few months, providing the latest official releases.

Navigate to the Kali Linux Downloads page and find the packages available for download. Depending on the system you have, download the 64-Bit or 32-Bit file.

download kali linux images

Step 2: Create Kali Linux VirtualBox Container

After downloading the .iso image, create a new virtual machine and import Kali as its OS.

1. Launch VirtualBox Manager and click on the New icon.

2. Name and operating system. A pop-up window for creating a new VM appears asking you to specify a name and a destination folder. The Type and Version change automatically, based on the name you provided. Make sure the information matches the package you downloaded.

create a virtual machine

3. Memory size. Next, choose how much memory to allocate to the virtual machine. The recommended size is 1024 MB. However, this varies depending on your individual needs.

4. Hard disk. The default option is to create a virtual hard disk for the new VM. Alternatively, you can use an existing virtual hard disk file or decide not to add one at all.

  1. create a virtual hard disk

5. Hard disk file type. Continue by sticking to the default file type for the new virtual hard disk, VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image).

6. Storage on a physical hard disk. Decide between dynamically allocated and fixed size. The first choice allows the new hard disk to grow and fill up space dedicated to it, while the second uses the maximum capacity from the start.

7. File location and size. Specify where you want to store the virtual hard disk and the amount of file data it is allowed to store on the hard disk. We advise giving it at least 8 GB.

8. Now you created a new VM, which you should see listed in the VirtualBox Manager.

  1. kali vm in virtualbox

Step 3: Configure Virtual Machine Settings

The next step is adjusting the default virtual machine settings.

1. Start by clicking on the Settings icon. Make sure you marked the correct VM and that the right-hand side is displaying details for Kali Linux.

virtual machine settings

2. Once the Kali Linux – Settings window opens, navigate to General > Advanced tab and change the Shared Clipboard and Drag’n’Drop settings to Bidirectional. This feature allows you to copy and paste between the host and guest machine, a useful feature you will most certainly need.

set bidirectional shared clipboard and drag n drop

3. Go to System > Motherboard. Set the boot order to start from Optical, followed by Hard Disk. Uncheck Floppy as it is unnecessary.

set boot order for vm

4. Next, move to the Processor tab in the same window. Increase the number of processors to two (2) to enhance performance.

set number of processors for vm

5. Finally, navigate to Storage settings. Add the downloaded Kali image to Controller: IDE. Click on the disk icon to search for the image.

set storage device for vm

6. Close the Settings and click on the Start icon to begin installing Kali.

power kali linux vm

Step 4: Installing and Setting Up Kali Linux

After you booted the installation menu by clicking on Start, a new VM VirtualBox window appears with the Kali welcome screen.

Select the Graphical install option and go through the following installation steps for setting up kali linux in VirtualBox.

graphical install for kali linux

1. Select a language. Choose the default language for the system (which will also be the language used during the installation process).

2. Select your location. Find and select your country from the list (or choose “other”).

3. Configure the keyboard. Decide on which keymap to use. In most cases, the best option is to select American English.

4. Configure the network. First, supply a hostname for the system (this can be any single word). Click on Continue.

5. Next, you need to create a domain name (the part of your internet address after your hostname). Domain names usually end in .com, .net, .edu, etc. Make sure you use the same domain name on all your machines.

6. Set up users and passwords. Create a strong root password for the system administrator account.

set up users and password in virtualbox

7. Configure the clock. Select your time zone from the options provided.

8. Partition disks. Select how you would like to partition the hard disk. Unless you have a good reason to do it manually, go for the Guided –use entire disk option.

partition disk for kali virtual machine

9. Then, select which disk you want to use for partitioning. As you created a single virtual hard disk in Step 3: Adjust VM Settings, you do not have to worry about data loss. Select the only available option – SCSI3 (0,0,0) (sda)68.7 GB ATA VBOK HARDDISK (the details after the dash vary depending on your virtualization software).

10. Next, select the scheme for partitioning. If you are a new user, go for All files in one partition.

11. The wizard gives you an overview of the configured partitions. Continue by navigating to Finish partitioning and write changes to disk, click on Continue. Confirm with Yes.

12. With this, it starts installing Kali. While the installation bar loads, additional configuration settings appear.

13. Configure the package manager. Select whether you want to use a network mirror. The default option is Yes.

14. Configure the package manager. Enter the HTTP proxy information if you are using one. Otherwise, leave the blank.

15. Install the GRUB boot loader on a hard disk. Select Yes and Continue.

16. Install the GRUB boot loader on a hard disk. Select a boot loader device to ensure the newly installed system is bootable.

17. Once you receive the message, the installation is complete. Click on Continue to reboot your VM.

With this, you have successfully installed Kali Linux on VirtualBox. After rebooting, the Kali login screen appears, asking you to type in a username (root) and password you decided on in the previous steps.

Finally, the interface of Kali Linux appears on your screen.

kali linux interface

Conclusion

With this guide, you have learned how to install Kali Linux in VirtualBox. We also covered setup and configuring to start penetration and security testing.