Kali Linux and the Raspberry Pi

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Kali Linux and the Raspberry Pi

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A while back we posted a list of Raspberry Pi uses and were pretty amazed at the depth of usage for the device (it’s worth checking the post out, there are some great comments and links).

With our interest in Linux Pentesting Distros (side note: take a look at our poll! “Vote for your favorite Linux Penetration Testing Distribution” last check there were 273 votes with Kali Linux winning by 52%) – we have been wanting to write a blog post regarding Kali working on a Raspberry Pi for a while now…

Quick look at Kali Linux
For the benefit of our new readers: Kali is a Pentesting/ Security Auditing Linux distribution. There are others but essentially Kali Linux, owing to the heritage and popularity of BackTrack, is the most popular. BackBox is also worth taking a look at, (side note: We have a section on our site here at Concise Courses regarding all the different types of InfoSec distros – and also a post on specific wireless distros).

The main difference and the reason why the distro changed its’ name from BackTrack to ‘Kali Linux’ is essentially because it is a complete re-build of BackTrack. Whereas before the folks who created the distro (Offensive Security) relied on Ubuntu, this new distro, which was released not that long ago, is now based on Debian. Kali was also built to accommodate ARMEL and ARMHF processor support. Don’t worry too much about the difference, just focus on the ‘ARM’ bit – but if you really want to know: the ARMEL architecture is used by Debian whilst the ARMHF architecture is used by Raspbian.

Debian (therefore Kali Linux) officially supports both ARM architectures – as is evident on their download page. Think of it like this: ARMEL is designed for lower end hardware – like the Raspberry Pi.

ARM Architecture and Kali Linux
Kali developers need congratulating for appreciating that ARM-based computers are becoming very popular primarily due to the low affordable cost of the processors. Kali has been built with ARM repositories embedded within the mainframe of the distro – meaning that pentesting and auditing InfoSec tools can be updated with significant ease.

What Devices work with Kali?
These four devices are tipped as being Kali-Linux compatible:

  • rk3306 mk/ss808
  • Raspberry Pi
  • ODROID U2/X2
  • Samsung Chromebook

Of these four devices the Raspberry Pi is probably the best known, probably for a simple reason: it’s damn cool. Not only is it incredibly cheap but it is also very powerful as well. In fact, it’s worth mentioning here that we had a really great Hacker Hotshot web show with DJ Palombo last year with a presentation called “Raspberry Pi Hacking” – definitely worth checking out since he discusses the hacking potential and uses of the Rapsberry Pi, notably with reference to Ettercap and Man In The Middle Attacks.

Downloading a copy of Kali Linux onto your Raspberry Pi couldn’t be easier, simply hit this link and download the latest and greatest version of Kali Linux – which at the time of publishing is version 1.0

Let us know what you think! If you have downloaded Kali on your Raspberry Pi we’d love to hear your comments. It is also certainly worth taking a look at Raspbian which like Kali is based on Debian but is solely focused on working on Raspberry Pi hardware. Raspbian ships with over 35,000 packages and has a solid community.

  • keshara

    This is what i searched for. I looked for ARMEL & ARMHF and its just not because to distinguished the difference between them, but to find out what Kali-linux image do i need to download to run raspberry pi. I think i got the answer thanks to this post.

    Think it is ARMEL image that i need to download…

    My Raspberry PI is on the way. Will update an feedback once i run it.

  • phoenix6142

    Thank you very much! This perfectly explains the answer to my question. Looking forward to running Kali Linux on my Raspberry Pi 2 Model B ^_^

  • Chris

    I have Kali Linux running on Pi 2. It boots directly to the GUI. How can I get it to boot to CLI?

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