If you’re a beginner and want to become an ethical hacker, one of the first steps you must take is to install the hacker’s operating system. In this guide, I will teach you how to install Kali Linux on VirtualBox to get you started.
Historically, installing Kali Linux was a very easy and straight forward process. But with the recent introduction of the latest Kali Linux 2020 installer files, things seem not to work too well out of the box.
So I emplore you to follow this guide step-by-step so that you get this right the first time. And on behalf of the Kali developers, I apologize for the extra steps.
But if you’d rather skip the headache, Kali is not the only “hackers” OS. You can install Parrot Security OS which I even prefer over Kali because of these little nuances here and there.
- What You’ll Need
- Preparation for Install
- Install Kali Linux 2020.3 on VirtualBox
- Fix Installation Errors in Kali Linux 2020 Offline Installer & Install Guest Additions
What You’ll Need
In other to reduce the frustration and install Kali Linux 2020 on VirtualBox in full offline mode you’ll need the following:
- Download and install the VirtualBox binary for your operating system
- Download Kali Linux 2020 Installer file
- Patience in following the instructions step-by-step
Preparation for Install
Now using the prerequisites listed above, we are going to create a guest virtual machine (VM), attach the Kali Linux ISO file you downloaded to it, and thereafter proceed to the actual installation.
1. Launch VirtualBox and create a guest VM.
Click “New” under the Tools menu to start creating a new virtual machine.
Then click “Expert mode” on the bottom of the pop-up window.
Now configure the Kali Linux 2020 guest VM with the following details:
- Name: Kali Linux 2020 (You can name yours whatever you like)
- Machine folder: Don’t change this.
- Type: Linux
- Version: Debian 64-bit (If you don’t have 64-bit options on the dropdown, don’t worry this video will help you fix that).
- Memory size: 2048 MB minimum. (Allocate more RAM if your PC can allow).
- Hard Disk: Create a virtual hard disk now.
Cross-check what you have with my screenshot above. Click “create” to proceed.
2. Create a virtual hard disk for the Kali guest VM
After you click create from step 1 above, a new window will pop up. Set the File size of the virtual hard disk to a minimum of 30GB. Leave every other configuration as it is and click “create” again to finish up.
3. Attach the downloaded Kali ISO file to the Kali guest VM.
Right-click on the Kali guest VM and click “settings” Then click Storage > Empty > the Disk Icon > and Choose a disk file as shown in the screenshot below. Now locate where you downloaded the Kali ISO installer file and select it.
Install Kali Linux 2020.3 on VirtualBox
With all that prep out of the way, continue with the written steps to install Kali Linux 2020 on VirtualBox. Or you can watch this tutorial video if you are more of a visual learner.
Step 1: Double click to launch the Kali VM, and select Graphical install on the boot screen.
Step 2: Select your preferred system language.
Step 3: Specify your geographic location.
Step 4: Select your preferred keyboard layout.
Step 5: The installer will now copy over the Kali image to your virtual hard disk, probe the available network interfaces, and prompt you to enter a system hostname. I will leave the hostname as the default “Kali”. Change yours if you want.
Step 6: (Optional) You may add this Kali machine to a domain or press enter to skip.
Step 7: Create a standard, non-administrative user for the system.
This will be the user account that you will use for every day running of this Kali machine. (Kudos to the Kali team for adding this step! This was not there until these latest Kali Linux 2020 releases).
Create a username for the standard user
Set a password for the standard user.
Step 8: Set the system time zone.
Step 9: The installer will launch the disk partitioner and offer you 4 options. I recommend beginners to select the Guided – use entire disk option.
Select the disk to be partitioned. Only your laptop’s hard disk will probably be listed here.
Select how you want the disk to be partitioned. Again for beginners, I recommend you choose the All files in one partition option. But you could still choose to have the home directory in a separate partition like in the example below.
Review your disk partitioning configuration.
Write the changes to disk. This is the last time to change your mind after now, the disk formatting cannot be reversed. Select yes and press enter.
Step 10: (Optional) If you use a proxy, enter the HTTP proxy information or press enter to skip it.
Step 11: (Important!) If you turned off internet connection as I told you in step 9 above, you’re going to receive this error which is perfectly fine. Just click on “Go Back“.
And select “Yes” to continue without a network mirror.
Step 12: Kali Linux 2020 releases now give users the option to decide what Kali desktop environment, and what amount of cybersecurity tools to install during the installation.
Note: Please leave everything as it is on this menu and continue.
Step 13: Select “yes” to install GRUB bootloader.
Select your VBOX hard disk for GRUB to install on it
Step 14: Finally, give the installer a little while to wrap things up… Installation completed!
Congrats if you got to this screen! You have just successfully installed Kali Linux 2020 on VirtualBox, but that’s not all. We have a few things to fix before the machine is useable.
Fix Installation Errors in Kali Linux 2020 Offline Installer & Install Guest Additions
Because we installed Kali in offline mode, we are going to very most likely have the following issues but I’ll show you how to fix them.
1. Apt-get install / update not working
Now, this is because on step 11, we chose to configure our apt manager without a network mirror but it is pretty easy to fix.
All you have to do is fill in the official Kali repository sources address below into your Kali sources.list file. Ensure you don’t make a mistake.
deb http://http.kali.org/kali kali-rolling main non-free contrib
Log in using the username and password you set during the installation.
Now open a terminal window and type in the follwing command to open the sources.list file and paste in the above address.
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list
Paste it at the bottom like you see in the screenshot below and save (cntrl + s).
Now you must update the system with the below command. You can also use this to confirm the operation worked. But don’t forget to connect your VM back to the internet (remember we disconnected it on step 9).
sudo apt update
2. Upgrade Kali Linux image & headers to the same version
In order to be able to install VirtualBox guess additions to have fullscreen you need to have the right Kali Linux headers installed.
From what I have seen there is a weird mismatch between the installed Kali Linux image and the Kali Linux header. It wouldn’t have been a problem if we could just install the matching Kali Linux headers to match the installed Kali image from the Kali repos.
Anyways to fix that type begin typing in
sudo apt install linux-headers- and press the tab key twice to see the versions available.
Repeat that again for the Linux image by typing
sudo apt install linux-image- and again press tab twice to see available versions.
Now go ahead and install the matching versions from both commands like you see in my screenshot below. If you have issues doing this, refer to the video above for clarifications.
In my case, this came down to the following commands. But the matching version numbers for yours may be different.
sudo apt install linux-headers-5.7.0-kali1-amd64 && sudo apt install linux-image-5.7.0-kali1-amd64 -y
Now you need to close the virtual machine (as rebooting may not do the trick here) for the big changes to take effect.
3. Install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Kali Linux 2020.3 Without Errors
If you have done everything exactly up till this point then you won’t receive any errors in installing VirtualBox guest additions.
sudo apt install virtualbox-guest-utils virtualbox-guest-x11
Close the virtual machine to restart it and you’re done. But just in case the VM refuses to go into full-screen mode automatically on login, just press the right ctrl key + F like twice or thrice.
Wondering what to do next? I invite you to follow my How to Become a Hacker series to learn practical ethical hacking and put your Kali Linux machine to good use.
If you have any questions regarding this post, please send them to me in the comment box below. And also consider sharing this post with your friends if it helped you.