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Brooks Sanders
Brooks Sanders

How to Create a Kali Linux Live Bootable USB Drive in Minutes


Using Kali in a dual-boot situation is the way to go if you have a dedicated machine, but for something more portable, the live version on a USB flash drive is what you want. If you have a spare computer that you're going to be using for your white-hat endeavors only, then yes, by all means, install Kali as the primary system so that you can take full use of the computer's hardware. We have a guide on that from drd_ if you want to do that.


While there are many different types of Kali Linux images, the one we want for a portable live version is the "Live" download. You can choose between 64-Bit for AMD (for Intel chips), 64-Bit for ARM64 (such as the M1 chips in newer Macs), and 32-Bit for i386 (which you likely won't ever use because it's so outdated).




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Visit kali.org/downloads and download the appropriate Live image. We'll be using the 64-Bit for ARM64 since we're using an M1 Mac. No matter which one you choose, note that you will only be able to use the Xfce desktop environment, and you won't be able to specify additional (meta)packages to install.


To create a partition above the Kali Live partitions, ending at 7 GB, issue the following three commands in a terminal window as the kali user, which will keep the Live options in the 7 GB partition, freeing up the rest for your data storage. Make sure you're doing this from your Kali Live system you just booted into.


Kali Linux can run natively when installed on a PC, can be booted from a live CD or live USB, or it can run within a virtual machine. It is a supported platform of the Metasploit Project's Metasploit Framework, a tool for developing and executing security exploits.


Out of the box, currently, there is no graphical user interface, or any tools pre-installed. Should you want the default toolset (kali-linux-default) or any other combination of metapackages, it should be like any other Kali platform. For installing a desktop environment, we have the following kali-docs page: Setting up RDP with Xfce


Your Kali Linux live USB is ready for use. You can now boot from this USB to load Kali Linux live session. In the live session, you can check out all the tools that are installed as default selection. You can install new tools for Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT). You can even perform VAPT using this USB. The advantage of Kali Linux live USB is that it will not interfere with your existing host operating system or data on your Laptop or PC. You even do not require to install Kali Linux on your Laptop for performing VAPT. You can use this USB on multiple Laptops or PCs, thus, providing you with the required portability.


Insert the Kali Linux live USB in a USB slot on your PC. Reboot the PC and enter BIOS setup. The key to enter bios setup is different on different make and model of laptops and desktops. There search for an option to enable booting from removable USB drives. You may also need to temporary disable secure boot on Windows PC to boot from Kali Linux USB.


Reboot your PC and press a key such as F9 (or some other key as per make and model of your PC) to display boot menu. Select the Kali Linux USB drive from the boot menu instead of hard disk. If you will be able to successfully boot from Kali Linux Live USB, the Kali Linux live menu will be displayed as shown in following figure:


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Goto this awesomedetect.com/how-to-provide-non-free-firmware-files-to-kali-linux-installer if you are still confused after reading the answer below. The process is well documented with great details there.


Live boot Kali Linux on your system to see if wifi and ethernet work fine in live boot or not. if wifi works fine on live boot then you don't even need to download anything from anywhere because non-free firmware files for most common wifi cards are already provided in kali Linux.


Copy all .deb files from this directory of your kali live boot usb : pool/non-free/firmware subdirectories to /firmware which is located in root of kali installation directory. If you downloaded any files during above step then include them in the same directory. Just copy them no need to extract them.


I've made a live USB of Kali Linux (latest amd64, using Rufus), and it boots up fine and everything, but when I try any of the live versions (I can install it fine, I would much more like to have it live though), it asks for my username/password, and when I type in root / toor or any other solutions I've found online, none worked.


Persistence means that you can save files and various settings on your system and the OS will still retain it after reboots or shutdowns. Typically live booting OS on a USB drive will not retain files nor configurations that you do after turning off the system.


First, we need to download a couple of pieces of software to accomplish our goal here. we start with downloading the kali image we need to live boot from a USB. you can do that by heading to Kali Linux's official site.


Go ahead select Downloads, it will take you to a page where you can download all the different variants for Kali Linux. Pick live boot, the page will scroll down to the different versions of Kali live boot. Go ahead and download the recommended image. I downloaded the 64-bit ISO. it will take some time the file is 3.7 G in size, all depend on your internet speed.


Advantages of doing live boot. we get full access to all the system resources. it is really portable, we can put the USB drive on your keychain and you have the fully pen-testing framework ready to go anytime. lastly, we can with a quick reboot and unplugging the drive go back to our daily OS with no issues


  • This is the first article in a series of security awareness articles. The first few articles will focus initially on WiFi security.For the purposes of hacking, people often tend to use the Kali distribution of Linux, which is generally regarded as the de facto standard package of tools used to facilitate penetration testing to secure data and voice networks. It was developed by Mati Aharoni and Devon Kearns of Offensive Security.This article will focus on creating a bootable USB drive containing Kali Linux, allowing one to boot up a computer from USB with Kali Linux. The original documentation can be found at -linux-live-usb-install and -linux-live-usb-persistence.For this article, you will need a Windows based computer and a USB drive of at least 8 GB.Start of by downloading the 64 bit ISO image file from Select the very first 3 GB file, named "Kali Linux 64bit" for amd64 based systems, assuming you will be using a 64 bit computer. Then, insert a USB drive into the computer of at least 8 GB.Download Win32 Disk Imager from Note that this tool doesn't work on Windows if you have a RAM disk and/or Encrypted disk configured on your system. If you do, then unmount these first. Use the Win32 Disk Imager tool to write the Kali ISO image file to the USB drive.Writing the ISO file takes a few minutes. As an alternative, you can also download the ISO image file on a Linux system, and use the dd command to write the ISO image file to the USB drive. For example, assuming the USB device on Linux is /dev/sdb, and the ISO image file is called kali-linux-2018.3a-amd64.iso, run:# dd if=kali-linux-2018.3a-amd64.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=512kAt this point, you can boot up Kali Linux from the USB drive. It may be necessary to change the boot order in the BIOS of the computer to boot from the USB drive (instead of the internal hard drive) first. The default password for the root user of Kali Linux is "toor".What has been created at this point is an operating system that you can use normally. You will notice however, that once you shut down and restart Kali Linux, that any changes you have made, will be gone. This is due to it not having any persistent storage, and thus losing all the changes mades once the operating system has been shut down or restarted.There is a way to create a persistent Kali Linux USB setup:Fist, boot Kali Linux from the USB drive you have prepared above. Run "lsblk" to identify which drive the USB drive is, for example /dev/sda. By looking at the output of the lsblk command, you can see that about 3.7 GB is in use for two different partitions. We'll be creating an additional partition for the persistent storage. Just to be safe, we'll create a new partition of 4 GB, starting at a location 4 GB through 8 GB on the USB drive:# parted /dev/sda mkpart primary 4gb 8gbThis will create a new partition called /dev/sda3. You can see this by running lsblk again. Next, create a file system on the new partition:# mkfs.ext3 -L persistence /dev/sda3# e2label /dev/sda3 persistenceNow create a mount point, mount the new partition there, and then create the configuration file to enable persistence. Finally, unmount the partition:# mkdir -p /mnt/my_usb# mount /dev/sda3 /mnt/my_usb# echo "/ union" > /mnt/my_usb/persistence.conf# umount /dev/sda3Next, reboot the system, and boot the Kali Linux Live persistence option:# rebootFrom now on it will be possible to write to the file systems, and changes will be maintained. The downside of creating a persistent USB version of Kali Linux is however, that the OS becomes slower, because it is now writing to the USB drive, which isn't that fast as writes to memory. There's also a method for creating an encrypted version of the persistent Kali Live Linux USB drive, which is described in more detail at -linux-live-usb-persistence.If you found this useful, here's more on the same topic(s) in our blog:Entropy

  • Automatically accept new SSH keys

  • Restrict a user to FTP to a particular folder

  • Avoid using env_reset in sudoers file

  • Generating random passwords



The Kali Live download is an ISO image which can be written to a USB stick or DVD, and you can then boot that medium and run a full Kali Linux system from it without disturbing whatever is currently installed on the disk drive. When you boot this image, there are a number of boot options:


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