With its huge collection of tools and utilities, Kali Linux is many users' first choice when it comes to penetration testing and ethical hacking. While many penetration testers use Kali as their primary operating system, this isn't a viable choice for users who just want to try the operating system out.

Installing Kali Linux on a hypervisor like VirtualBox is practical in such situations. Everything you do inside the virtual machine does not affect your host system and vice versa. You can also use both operating systems at the same time without any problems.

This article will show you how to install Kali Linux in VirtualBox.

How to install Kali Linux in VirtualBox

The traditional installation of the operating system using an ISO file on VirtualBox, while time consuming, is still recommended if you want to install a full version of Kali Linux in your primary operating system.


To install Kali Linux on VirtualBox, you need the following software and hardware specifications:

  • Kali Linux ISO

  • VirtualBox

  • At least 20 GB of storage space

  • 4 GB of RAM

First, download the version of VirtualBox compatible with your host computer and install it on your system.

Download: VirtualBox

Next, download the Kali Linux ISO image from the website. Select the Raw metal Platform and choose Plumber from the options available.

Download: Kali Linux

Step 1: create a new virtual machine

Start VirtualBox on your host machine and click on the New Button. Enter the name you want your virtual machine to have. The recommended name is Kali Linux. VirtualBox will automatically select the rest of the options for you. However, if it doesn't, you can manually select the options to match the image below.

When you're done, press Next. Now use the slider to select the memory size for your new virtual machine. VirtualBox will automatically tell you that the recommended memory size is 1024MB. Select 4096 MB and press Next. Feel free to use 2048MB or 1024MB if you have a computer with less RAM.

Choose Now create a virtual hard drive and click on Create. Select the option that says VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image) and choose Dynamically assigned in the following screen.

Now enter the amount of memory that you want to provide to the virtual machine. Make sure you select at least 20 GB as the hard drive size. Choose 40 GB to ensure your virtual machine doesn't run out of space. When you're done, click that Create Button.

Your new virtual machine has been created. Now is the time to configure the machine's settings.

Related: Reasons to Use a Virtual Machine

Step 2: Configure the virtual machine

Right now you only have one virtual machine on your system that does nothing. To make it work you will need to make some changes to the settings. Highlight your virtual machine in the left pane and click on the the settings Button.

Choose General and switch to Advanced Select tab Bidirectional for the Shared clipboard and Pull and let go Possibility.

Select in the left pane system and disable everything except Optically and hard disk under the Starting order Etiquette. Also rearrange the entries so that Optically is first and hard disk is the second boot device.

Switch to processor Tab and move the Processor (s) Slider to where the colors green and red meet. Click that too Activate PAE / NX Possibility.

Now click on in the left sidebar display and choose the maximum possible Video memory for the virtual machine. Go over to warehouse and click on Empty Option under the Controller: IDE Etiquette.

In the right pane, click the disc Icon and select Choose a hard drive file. Now search the Kali Linux ISO from your local storage. When you're done, click OK to complete the process.

Step 3: launch and install Kali Linux

Highlight the virtual machine in the left sidebar and click on the begin Button. Kali Linux will now boot with the ISO file you have just selected. Choose Graphic installation Option from the list.

The system starts loading the necessary files. Select the desired language for the installation and click on Continue. Next, choose your geographic location from the list of available options.

Then select an appropriate keyboard layout for the operating system. Although the recommended option is American English, you can also choose a different keyboard layout.

Kali Linux now automatically detects and mounts the installation medium. Some other configurations are made by the system. Enter the host name for your virtual machine. For this guide, keep the default host name, which is kali. On the next screen, the system will ask you for a domain name. Just click Continue to skip.

Enter the full name of the new user. On the next screen, enter the username that you want the user to have. Click on Continue to continue, and then enter a strong password for the user account.

The next step is to partition the hard drives. Since you are not dual booting Kali Linux with any other operating system, you can proceed with that Guided – Use the entire hard drive Possibility. Select the hard drive file to be partitioned and click Continue. Choose Separate the partitions / home, / var and / tmp from the list of available options.

Select on the next screen Finish the partitioning and write the changes to the hard disk and click on Continue. Choose Yes and hit Continue again to confirm the action. The system will automatically start the installation for you.

Kali Linux will ask you for the files you want to download. Select an appropriate desktop environment that meets your needs and review the large – standard selection plus additional tools Possibility. Click on Continue Continue.

Kali Linux will begin downloading the files required for installation. click Yes when the system prompts you to install the GRUB boot loader on your primary drive. Select the hard drive from the list and click Continue.

After Kali Linux has completed the installation, click on Continue. The system will reboot and boot into Kali Linux. When the login screen appears, enter the password you set during installation.

Learn more: Best operating systems to try out in a virtual machine

Install Kali Linux VirtualBox Image Installing

Another way to install Kali Linux on VirtualBox is to use the pre-made VirtualBox image. Unlike installing from the ISO, VirtualBox image files are quick and easy to install.

First, download the virtual machine image for VirtualBox from the Kali Linux website.

Download: Kali Linux VirtualBox image

Launch VirtualBox on your host computer and select Tools from the left pane. Then click on that Import Button.

Browse through the VirtualBox image file that you just downloaded by clicking on the small file Symbol. After selecting the file, click Next. VirtualBox displays the settings and configurations associated with the image file.

Change the home folder to save the virtual machine files to. Do not select the drive that contains your host operating system. When you're done, click Import and choose Agree when the system displays the license agreement.

Wait for a while and let VirtualBox import the operating system from the downloaded file. When it's done, highlight the virtual machine in the left pane and click the begin Button to boot the operating system.

When you come across them Support for USB 2.0 controllers Error, just disable the feature by going to the settings > USB and then deactivate Activate the USB controller.

Use the power of Kali Linux

Kali Linux is a well-known operating system that contains thousands of tools for penetration testing and digital forensics. Although several operating systems are available for ethical hacking, Kali Linux still stands out as one of the best.

Aside from desktops, you can also install Kali Linux on Raspberry Pi. Kali Linux installed on a Raspberry Pi is really powerful and has tremendous potential when it comes to penetration testing and ethical hacking.

Getting started with ethical hacking with Kali Linux and Raspberry Pi

Ethical hacking is great for learning new skills, and a great way to get started is using Kali Linux and Raspberry Pi.

Continue reading

About the author

Deepesh Sharma
(55 published articles)

Deepesh is Junior Editor for Linux at MUO. He has been writing informational content on the Internet for over 3 years. In his spare time he enjoys writing, listening to music and playing the guitar.

From Deepesh Sharma

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