Kali Linux: What is the ‘Hacker Linux’?

Kali Linux is an operating system that is mainly used to protect and optimise computers and networks, as well as to crack passwords. Since these features can also be used for illegal purposes, the distribution gets its fair share of controversy. It is mainly aimed at experienced users.

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What is Kali Linux?

Kali Linux is a Linux distribution based on Debian that can be used primarily to detect security holes in computers or Internet connections, recover lost data, or analyse passwords. The system runs under the GNU GPL license and is open source. In the future, there will be annually updated versions of Kali Linux, which will be improved in terms of content, and will also include new backgrounds and other features. The first version of Kali Linux was released back in 2013, and developers Mati Aharoni and Devon Kearns had created the distribution for Offensive Security as a successor to BackTrack. Kali Linux uses Xfce as the desktop environment.

What are the main applications of Kali Linux?

Kali Linux has more than 600 different security tools and is mainly used for penetration testing and forensic computing. The Linux distribution checks networks and computers for potential vulnerabilities, cracks passwords and encryptions, and evaluates current security measures. Deleted or lost data and files can also be recovered or made visible with Kali Linux, provided they have not already been overwritten. This enables users to check their own security architecture, detect and prevent unauthorised access, or fix fundamental configuration errors that could harm their own system or security.

Why is Kali Linux known as ‘Hacker Linux’?

The term ‘Hacker Linux’, which is often used in connection with Kali Linux, can be attributed to the areas of application mentioned above. By hacking their own system, a user identifies vulnerabilities and closes security holes before other hackers can access them. However, it is also true that the tools provided are so good and reliable that they can theoretically be used for illegal activities. If Kali Linux were to be used on someone else’s computer, it would be possible to exploit the security vulnerabilities, crack passwords, overload systems and spy on them. This is (of course) a punishable offence.

Kali Linux should only be used on your own computers or those for which the user has been given explicit access permission. However, since the possibility of its misuse exists, the designation ‘Hacker Linux’ can be traced back not only to ethical hacking or the use on one’s own computer, but also to the various malicious attack possibilities, therefore giving it the name ‘Hacker Linux’.

What are the system requirements?

It is relatively easy to install Kali Linux compared to many other Linux distributions. Only the system requirements need to be considered. If you want to install Kali Linux on a secure shell server without a graphical user interface, you need at least 128 MB RAM and 2 GB disk space. However, at least 512 RAM is recommended. For the installation with a lightweight Xfce4 desktop and the kali-linux-default metapackage, 8 GB of RAM and 20 GB of disk space are specified to ensure that the system runs permanently without degradation. Theoretically, however, 2 GB of RAM is also enough for the installation. In any case, a secure and stable Internet connection must be guaranteed.

What does Kali Linux have to offer?

Kali Linux offers numerous different tools with which the security of one’s own system can be checked and optimised. These include the Social Engineer toolkit, which contains various programs for penetration tests, Metasploit and Aircrack-ng for identifying vulnerabilities in the computer or WLAN, and the security scanner WPScan for WordPress. For network security contribute, for example, Kismet, Nmap, or Wireshark. The security of one’s own passwords can be checked with Hashcat and John the Ripper. These programs can also be used to crack encryption. For the area of digital forensics, Kali Linux offers the tool collection The Sleuth Kit, among others.

What are the pros and cons of Kali Linux?

The main advantages and disadvantages of Kali Linux can already be found in the main focus of the Linux distribution. If you want to check your computer or your cybersecurity, Kali Linux gives you all the necessary tools to do so. There is hardly an easier and better way to close security gaps. Its versatility in terms of installation and the corresponding purpose also speaks for the distribution. In combination with the appropriate desktop environment, the use is relatively intuitive and corresponds to the usual operating systems in many points. In addition, Kali Linux has a large community, so there is a lot of documentation for the different areas of use.

Even though the basic use is relatively easy, it takes a comparatively long timeto learn all features. Kali Linux is primarily aimed at experienced users. The operating system’s possibilities for misuse are often held against it and can be seen as a disadvantage. Kali Linux is very well suited for the purposes mentioned above. However, if you want to focus on something other than security control, other Linux distributions are more suitable.

What alternatives are there to this Linux distribution?

If you are looking for an alternative to Kali Linux that offers similar features, BlackArch with several thousand security features is a good choice. As a minimalist operating system with numerous customisation options, Arch Linux has proven itself a worthy candidate. A somewhat more accessible alternative with a graphical front end for package management is Manjaro Linux. In addition, Linux also offers derivatives like the user-friendly Linux Mint or the lean Lubuntu beside the popular distributions Ubuntu and Debian. The two CentOS successors Rocky Linux and AlmaLinux are binary compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.


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