Installing Kali Linux on VirtualBox: Quickest & Safest Way

This tutorial shows you how to install Kali Linux on Virtual Box in Windows and Linux in the quickest way possible.

Kali Linux is one of the best Linux distributions for hacking and security enthusiasts.

Since it deals with a sensitive topic like hacking, it’s like a double-edged sword. We have discussed it in the detailed Kali Linux review in the past so I am not going to bore you with the same stuff again.

While you can install Kali Linux by replacing the existing operating system, using it via a virtual machine would be a better and safer option.

With Virtual Box, you can use Kali Linux as a regular application in your Windows/Linux system. It’s almost the same as running VLC or a game in your system.

Using Kali Linux in a virtual machine is also safe. Whatever you do inside Kali Linux will NOT impact your ‘host system’ (i.e. your original Windows or Linux operating system). Your actual operating system will be untouched and your data in the host system will be safe.

Kali Linux on Virtual Box

How to install Kali Linux on VirtualBox

I’ll be using VirtualBox here. You may also install Kali Linux on VMWare.

VirtualBox is a wonderful open source virtualization solution for just about anyone (professional or personal use). It’s available free of cost.

In this tutorial, we will talk about Kali Linux in particular but you can install almost any other OS whose ISO file exists or a pre-built virtual machine save file is available.

Note: The same steps apply for Windows/Linux running VirtualBox.

As I already mentioned, you can have either Windows or Linux installed as your host. But, in this case, I have Windows 10 installed (don’t hate me!) where I try to install Kali Linux in VirtualBox step by step.

And, the best part is – even if you happen to use a Linux distro as your primary OS, the same steps will be applicable!

Wondering, how? Let’s see…

Step by Step Guide to install Kali Linux on VirtualBox

We are going to use a custom Kali Linux image made for VirtualBox specifically. You can also download the ISO file for Kali Linux and create a new virtual machine – but why do that when you have an easy alternative?

1. Download and install VirtualBox

The first thing you need to do is to download and install VirtualBox from Oracle’s official website.

Once you download the installer, just double click on it to install VirtualBox. It’s the same for installing VirtualBox on Ubuntu/Fedora Linux as well.

2. Download ready-to-use virtual image of Kali Linux

After installing it successfully, head to Offensive Security’s download page to download the VM image for VirtualBox. If you change your mind to utilize VMware, that is available too.

Kali Linux Virtual Box Image

As you can see the file size is well over 3 GB, you should either use the torrent option or download it using a download manager.

3. Install Kali Linux on Virtual Box

Once you have installed VirtualBox and downloaded the Kali Linux image, you just need to import it to VirtualBox in order to make it work.

Here’s how to import the VirtualBox image for Kali Linux:

Step 1: Launch VirtualBox. You will notice an Import button – click on it

virtualbox import
Click on Import button

Step 2: Next, browse the file you just downloaded and choose it to be imported (as you can see in the image below). The file name should start with ‘kali linux‘ and end with .ova extension.

virtualbox import file
Importing Kali Linux image

SOnce selected, proceed by clicking on Next.

Step 3: Now, you will be shown the settings for the virtual machine you are about to import. So, you can customize them or not – that is your choice. It is okay if you go with the default settings.

You need to select a path where you have sufficient storage available. I would never recommend the C: drive on Windows.

virtualbox kali linux settings
Import hard drives as VDI

Here, the hard drives as VDI refer to virtually mount the hard drives by allocating the storage space set.

After you are done with the settings, hit Import and wait for a while.

Step 4: You will now see it listed. So, just hit Start to launch it.

You might get an error at first for USB port 2.0 controller support, you can disable it to resolve it or just follow the on-screen instruction of installing an additional package to fix it. And, you are done!

kali linux on windows virtual box
Kali Linux running in VirtualBox

The default username in Kali Linux used to be root and the default password was toor. But since January 2020, Kali Linux is not using the root account. Now, the default account and password both are kali.

You should be able to login to the system with it.

Do note that you should update Kali Linux before trying to install a new applications or trying to hack your neighbor’s WiFi.

I hope this guide helps you easily install Kali Linux on Virtual Box. Of course, Kali Linux has a lot of useful tools in it for penetration testing – good luck with that!

Tip: Both Kali Linux and Ubuntu are Debian-based. If you face any issues or error with Kali Linux, you may follow the tutorials intended for Ubuntu or Debian on the internet.

Bonus: Free Kali Linux Guide Book

If you are just starting with Kali Linux, it will be a good idea to know how to use Kali Linux.

Offensive Security, the company behind Kali Linux, has created a guide book that explains the basics of Linux, basics of Kali Linux, configuration, setups. It also has a few chapters on penetration testing and security tools.

Basically, it has everything you need to get started with Kali Linux. And the best thing is that the book is available to download for free.

Let us know in the comments below if you face an issue or simply share your experience with Kali Linux on VirtualBox.

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  • i have download the kali vm file but its extention is amd.7z and virtual box said that virtual box supports .ovf files.

  • I was told to upgrade Kali Linux prior to doing that. Upon trying to run the command “apt update” I am receiving the error messages:

    ┌──(kali㉿kali)-[~]
    └─$ apt update
    Reading package lists… Done
    E: List directory /var/lib/apt/lists/partial is missing. – Acquire (13: Permission denied)
    W: Problem unlinking the file /var/cache/apt/pkgcache.bin – RemoveCaches (13: Permission denied)
    W: Problem unlinking the file /var/cache/apt/srcpkgcache.bin – RemoveCaches (13: Permission denied)

    Please note- I am logging in as Kali-Kali

  • When I browsed the file I downloaded from kali.org, I got an error message on Virtualbox which was “failed to open the disk image file”. Do you have any idea? Thank you