Install Kali Linux on Windows Using WSL

Kali Linux is available on WSL. You can install it in command line mode with GUI support inside Windows 11/10 like any other Windows application.
Warp Terminal

For some time, installing Kali Linux on VirtualBox was the easiest way to use this hacking distribution inside Windows. But that has changed with Kali Linux being available in Windows Store directly.

On March 2018, Microsoft announced the availability of Debian and Debian-based hacking distribution Kali Linux on Windows Subsystem for Linux. You can download these two distributions from Microsoft Store and install them like any other Windows 11/10 application. This way, you get the command line version along with possible GUI tools, of these Linux distributions.

Kali Linux in Windows Store

To install Kali Linux in Windows, you should be running either Windows 10 or Windows 11. Please read our article on how to set up WSL 2 and install Linux distributions in Windows, for a quick overview of the requirements and initial setup.

Install Kali on Windows 11 and Some Windows 10 Machines

In Windows 11 or some of the latest builds of Windows 10, installing Kali Linux or any other Linux distribution is a straightforward process. Go to the Microsoft store and install Windows Subsystem for Linux application.

Windows Subsystem for Linux Application in Microsoft Store
Windows Subsystem for Linux Application

There is a version of Kali Linux available to install via Powershell, but that is not recommended. So, you need to go to the Microsoft store and install Kali Linux as an application as shown in a previous screenshot.

Once done, open the Kali Linux application. It will show some installation progress and after that, you will be able to create your UNIX username and Password.

Setting Username and Password for Kali Linux

Now, is a minimal installation. You need to update your Kali system with the command:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

This will download and install the necessary and available updates.

Run GUI apps with Kali Linux

Kali Linux offers a special package, called win-kex, which supports the GUI apps in Windows. Mainly, it offers three modes:

  • Window Mode
  • Enhanced Session Mode
  • Seamless mode

To access these features, open Kali Linux and Run the command below:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install -y kali-win-kex

This will download and install quite a big number of packages. Wait for some time to complete the installation.

Once the package download is complete, it will ask for your language. Choose appropriately.

Select Language
Select Language

It will again start the installation process. When everything is finished, you can restart the Kali instance. By now, you will be able to notice the apps and other software, installed under the β€œKali Linux” folder in your start menu.

Kali Linux folder in Start Menu
Kali Linux folder in Start Menu

You can open the apps, like those native apps in windows. See the below screenshot, where a Firefox ESR and mousepad editor are opened in Windows 11:

Running Linux apps on Windows
Running Linux apps on Windows

Refer to the official documentation for more Kali Linux modes available, like a full Kali Linux desktop, sound support, etc.

Kali Linux Full desktop Experience (Image Credits: Kali Linux)
For Older Windows versions of Windows that support WSL2, you can follow our guide to install Kali Linux. Just replace Ubuntu with Kali Linux in the process. Also remember, WSLg, the feature used to run Linux GUI applications in Windows is only supported in Windows 11 and fully up-to-date Windows 10 systems. 
About the author


Linux tinkerer by day, Lord of the Rings fanatic by night. When I'm not busy conquering the command line, you can find me kicking back and watching some football while quoting JRR Tolkien

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