Should I Use Kali Linux?

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Probably not...

What is Kali Linux?

Kali Linux is a Linux distribution built for professionals in the security and penetration testing field of the IT sector. It has many industry standard tools pre-installed that are used for hacking into computer systems and many modifications to make the OS a very good toolbox to use.

So why shouldn't I use it?

We'll get into that now..

Inherently Insecure

Inherently Insecure

Kali Linux by default is not very secure, due to the tools that are bundled with the OS it is easier to only have the Root account enabled by default, Kali will not create a un-privilaged account by default for normal use as it is not needed in the intended use of the operating system. You can create a separate user account for general use but you will still need to login as Root when using the pen-testing tools. Because of the system running as Root by default it means that newer users to Linux who do not understand the risk can easily damage their system and cause data loss.

Disabled Features

Kali Linux can be very tricky to get working network wise and for a good reason. Quoting from the Kali.org website “Kali Linux is a penetration testing toolkit, and may potentially be used in “hostile” environments. Accordingly, Kali Linux deals with network services in a very different way than typical Linux distributions.” This means that any program that opens an externally listening service on boot will be disabled to prevent the Kali system from being shown on the network. You can override the default policy however this can be very tricky if you don’t fully understand the programs that you are using. Kali also has a tendency for not detecting WiFi hardware causing a lot of inexperienced users to be unable to connect to the internet. Bluetooth is also blacklisted by default.

Simple Tasks Are Hard

Simple Tasks Are Hard

Although Kali may be customizable you won’t be able to easily, if at all, install certain programs correctly if they differ too much from the Kali app ecosystem. There is no support for the “apt-add-repository” meaning you are limited to the repositories included by default in Kali. If you try to install a program such as Steam to play games it is a very fast way to potentially break your system. Kali shouldn’t be used for development as simple things such as NodeJS or a basic LAMP stack can take a lot of work, especially for a new user.

Frustrating

Frustrating For All Involved

This issue isn’t so much about Kali as it is about the people who use Kali. Most users of Kali have no (or limited) previous experience with Linux and do not know how to do many tasks. While many forum users would be happy to assist somebody with an issue with their OS if it was being used for the correct purpose they can get very annoyed with users trying to use Kali for the wrong purpose. Questions about basic issues in Kali can fill forums with borderline spam as people are repeating the same thing over and over again. If the users used a distribution more orientated for desktop use they would more than likely not experience the issue they are having with Kali and would not beg forum users for help. This can give communities bad reputations due to users being snappy with new Kali users.

An Example of why not to use Kali

A Kali user with no understanding of basic commands and processes of Linux manages to break their desktop by playing around with the default root account. Somebody with a stronger understanding of Linux would not be facing this issue and filling up communities with self caused, easy to avoid issues.

So with all the downsides, why do people still use Kali Linux?

TV Shows

There are a couple of popular TV shows currently airing based around hackers, one of these programs even showed Kali Linux specifically in 2 of the episodes. Now many users are trying to imitate the show by downloading and attempting to use the distribution.

Trying To Impress

There are also many people trying to use Kali to show off or to “hack” their friends. They try to use very simple exploit tools to hack into networks and devices while exposing or risking their own data as they haven’t secured the OS correctly. There are also a lot of people trying to install Kali as they want to hack into WiFi access points nearby so that they can get free internet.

So what should I use instead?

There are many great, desktop orientated Linux distributions that are very user friendly for newer users or more advanced for more experienced users. They are made for use as a desktop and will be a much better experience than Kali for use as a standard PC or for developing with. 

Ubuntu

Ubuntu

One of the most popular distros, you'll get a lot of help if you have issues. Very simple to get started and to install new software.

Debian

Debian

This is what many distributions are based on, including Kali and Ubuntu. Incredibly stable and is very easy to install new programs on.

Linux Mint

Linux Mint

This is a derivative of Ubuntu which has been built upon in many ways. It is very user friendly and a good first flavour of Linux to try.

Manjaro

Manjaro

This is based on Arch Linux and will be a great distribution for normal or more advanced users. It also includes a very good hardware detection system.