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How to Install Kali Linux in VirtualBox: A Complete Guide

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Kali Linux, a Debian-based Linux distribution, is widely recognized for its robust security testing capabilities. It is designed specifically for penetration testing and is a go-to choice for security specialists and enthusiasts. While Kali Linux can be run as a live DVD or installed as a host operating system, using it as a general-purpose desktop OS is not recommended. In this guide, we will focus on installing Kali Linux in VirtualBox, a virtualization platform that allows you to run guest operating systems on your host machine. This guide is applicable to Windows, Linux, and macOS platforms.

Preparation Steps for Installing Kali Linux in VirtualBox

Step 1: Downloading the Kali Linux Installation Image

To begin, you need to download the Kali Linux ISO image from the official website. Choose the appropriate version (32-bit or 64-bit) and select your preferred graphical user interface (Gnome, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, etc.). Make sure to save the ISO file to a location on your host machine.

Step 2: Creating a New Virtual Machine in VirtualBox

Once you have downloaded the Kali Linux ISO image, it’s time to create a new virtual machine in VirtualBox. Follow these steps:

  1. Open VirtualBox and click on “New” to create a new virtual machine.
  2. Provide a name for your virtual machine (e.g., “Kali Linux”) and select the operating system type as “Linux” and the version as “Debian (64-bit).”
  3. Allocate an appropriate amount of memory to the virtual machine. We recommend a minimum of 4GB for smooth performance.
  4. Create a new virtual hard disk for your virtual machine. Choose the size and type of the virtual hard disk (VDI or VMDK).
  5. Configure additional settings such as display options, network options, and storage options according to your preferences. For network options, select “Bridged” mode to allow the virtual machine to connect to the same network as your host machine.

Step 3: Mounting the Kali Linux ISO Image

To install Kali Linux in VirtualBox, you need to mount the Kali Linux ISO image to the virtual machine. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the newly created virtual machine in VirtualBox and click on “Settings.”
  2. Go to the “Storage” tab and click on the empty CD/DVD drive.
  3. In the attributes panel on the right, click on the disk icon next to “Optical Drive” and select the Kali Linux ISO image you downloaded earlier.
  4. Click “OK” to save the settings.

Installing Kali Linux in VirtualBox: Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you have prepared the virtual machine, it’s time to install Kali Linux in VirtualBox. Follow these steps:

  1. Start the virtual machine by clicking on the “Start” button in VirtualBox.
  2. The Kali Linux installation menu will appear. Select “Graphical Install” to begin the installation process.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to select your preferred language, location, and keyboard layout.
  4. Configure the network settings, hostname, and domain name for your Kali Linux installation.
  5. Set up the user account by entering your desired full name, username, and password.
  6. Choose the partitioning scheme for your virtual disk. Select the guided partitioning option for simplicity.
  7. Confirm the partitioning changes and wait for the installation process to complete.
  8. Once the installation is finished, reboot the virtual machine.
  9. Log in to your Kali Linux installation using the username and password you set during the installation process.
  10. Congratulations! You have successfully installed Kali Linux in VirtualBox.

Installing VirtualBox Guest Additions on Kali Linux

VirtualBox Guest Additions enhance the performance and functionality of the guest operating system. To install VirtualBox Guest Additions on Kali Linux, follow these steps:

  1. Start the Kali Linux virtual machine in VirtualBox.
  2. Go to the “Devices” menu in the VirtualBox window and select “Insert Guest Additions CD image.”
  3. Open a terminal window in Kali Linux and navigate to the mounted CD image.
  4. Run the following command to install the necessary packages: sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y virtualbox-guest-x11
  5. Once the installation is complete, reboot the virtual machine.
  6. After the reboot, you can enjoy the enhanced features provided by VirtualBox Guest Additions, such as seamless mouse integration and shared clipboard.

Connecting USB Wi-Fi Adapter to the Kali Linux VM in VirtualBox

If you want to use an external USB Wi-Fi adapter in your Kali Linux virtual machine, follow these steps:

  1. Connect the USB Wi-Fi adapter to your host machine.
  2. In VirtualBox, select the Kali Linux virtual machine and go to “Settings.”
  3. Under the “USB” tab, click on the “+” icon to add a new USB filter.
  4. Choose the USB Wi-Fi adapter from the list of available devices.
  5. Click “OK” to save the settings.
  6. Start the Kali Linux virtual machine, and the USB Wi-Fi adapter should be recognized within the virtual machine.

Advantages of Running Kali Linux in VirtualBox

Running Kali Linux in VirtualBox offers several advantages, including:

  1. Isolation: By running Kali Linux in a virtual machine, you can isolate it from your host operating system, reducing the risk of any potential security issues.
  2. Portability: Virtual machines can be easily moved or copied to different host machines, allowing you to carry your Kali Linux environment with you.
  3. Resource Management: VirtualBox allows you to allocate specific resources (such as CPU, memory, and disk space) to your Kali Linux virtual machine, ensuring optimal performance.
  4. Snapshotting: VirtualBox provides the ability to take snapshots of your Kali Linux virtual machine, allowing you to revert to a previous state if something goes wrong or if you want to start from a known configuration.
  5. Compatibility: VirtualBox is available for multiple host operating systems, making it a versatile choice for running Kali Linux on various platforms.


In this comprehensive guide, we have explored the process of installing Kali Linux in VirtualBox. By following the step-by-step instructions, you can create a secure and isolated environment for conducting security testing and penetration testing activities. Running Kali Linux in VirtualBox provides flexibility, portability, and resource management, making it an ideal choice for security professionals and enthusiasts. Enhance your cybersecurity skills and explore the powerful features of Kali Linux in a virtualized environment with VirtualBox.

Remember to always stay within the legal boundaries and obtain proper authorization before conducting any security testing activities. Happy hacking!

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Troubleshooter @Google Ops | YouTuber (60k subs) | Creator of this website (i.e. The Techrix) Passionate about InfoSec & CTFs | Exploring tech's frontiers with curiosity and creativity."
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