Kali Linux 2.0

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snehit, 123RF.com

snehit, 123RF.com


The developers introduced version 2.0 of Kali Linux in mid-August. It is a distribution that specializes in system and network security. This is not limited to cosmetic changes – in fact, Kali actually features many important innovations.

In recent years, the Debian-based Kali Linux has developed into one of the best Linux distributions for IT security audits and is therefore very popular with network and system administrators. In the recently released 2.0 version, the developers have not just redesigned and visually enhanced the main parts of the operating system but have also introduced some innovations under the hood.

With Kali Linux, you always have the option of live operations or installing on a local disk. Debian is still used as the base system – although this does not exclusively mean benefits – primarily for the reason that Debian doesn't inherently give you proprietary drivers and files. In a local installation, a routine launches to help you configure network access; this also means wireless network connections. If the computer has a wireless card that requires proprietary firmware, this is only available after the corresponding firmware files have been integrated. Problems therefore occasionally arise, particularly with cutting-edge hardware components.

Kali Linux is available in a variety of customized versions [1]. As well as the approximately 3.1GB full versions for 32- and 64-bit architectures, there are also significantly smaller light and mini versions, each for the common Intel processor architectures. However, they naturally come at the price of a scaled-down software configuration. It is therefore a good idea to use the full version on newer computer systems with corresponding storage capacities.

The conventional ISO images for standard PCs are suitable both for burning onto optical disks and for using USB flash drives. You can also use the latter with persistent storage areas if necessary, which significantly increases the system's flexibility [3]. The project offers ISO images for ARM computers for small computers like the Raspberry Pi and for Chromebooks [2]. Customized versions for operation on virtual machines like VMware and VirtualBox complete the offering.

Getting Started

Once the live version has booted to the Gnome desktop, a few visual changes really stand out compared with the previous version. For example, the developers have changed the entire menu structure. A total of 13 program groups, which can be accessed via the main menu, now bundle hardening applications (Figure 1).

Figure 1: An important aspect of the new design relates to the new menu, which provides significantly more order than before.

You will find all the conventional application programs in the Usual applications menu item. Visually speaking, the Gnome desktop has been enhanced by native support for 3D effects. This means that transparency effects and partly animated windows now also appear on less powerful graphics hardware. Fortunately, the desktop uses these effects so unobtrusively that they don't interfere with your work (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Kali Linux offers plenty of enhancements in the live version – both visually and functionally.


Much has changed in terms of the actual software, too. Like before, all the relevant tools for identifying security problems in networks are included in the latest version. However, there are a few cutbacks with Metasploit. Although previous versions of Kali Linux provided Metasploit Pro and Community alongside the actual framework, these are both missing in the latest version. Any other variants need to be installed manually because the developer Rapid7 has not yet released its software for the new version of Kali Linux. Corresponding installation instructions can be found online [4].

The significantly reduced software inventory in the individual menus is very apparent. The developers systematically removed all multiple entries and some of the applications that are rarely used. The update cycles are also another major new feature: Version 2.0 of the distribution has adopted a rolling-release model, meaning that new versions of packages are constantly appearing in Kali Linux. This includes updates for individual tools – version leaps are a thing of the past.

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