Kali? ... or Linux first?

Hello Experts

I'm considering learning penetration testing.  I'm told tat Kali Linux is the tool of choice.  I've never worked with Linux, other than a single time that i helped a client who has Ubuntu.  And that was a long time ago and I don't remember what his issue was.    Do I need to learn Linux before I start using Kali, or is it fairly straight forward?  I don't mean is knowing Pen Testing straight forward.  I'm trying to determine the starting point.  Kali or Linux?


thedslguyComputer and Network ConsultantAsked:
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Murali SripadaVMware Engineer | vExpert 18/19Commented:
Yes undoubtedly.. Kali is a bit advanced.. Those all packages which are not used by basic Linux.. Please ensure that Linux is perfect first then the kali is learnt or used
David FavorLinux/LXD/WordPress/Hosting SavantCommented:
If you're a Linux Savant just install Kali.

If you're somewhat familiar with Linux + debugging every little problem is a bit beyond you, try this...

1) Install Ubuntu Bionic.

2) Use the https://fossbytes.com/install-kali-linux-tools-ubuntu-debian-using-katoolin/ script which installs all Kali related packages on vanilla Ubuntu.

I've been working with Linux since Linus shipped the OS on floppy drives + I'd go the #2 route, if I were setting up Kali.
thedslguyComputer and Network ConsultantAuthor Commented:
David Favor

Thanks for the response.  As I said in my question, I'm completely unfamiliar with Linux. So let me see if I understand what you are saying:

I don't need to learn Linux.  Just install Ubuntu and run the script.  Correct?


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David FavorLinux/LXD/WordPress/Hosting SavantCommented:
Oops... I missed you saying...

"I've never worked with Linux, "

So you will have a learning curve with Linux + starting with an Ubuntu install will generally be easier than trying to install Kali.

Ubuntu is a Linux Distro (Distribution) which tend to have better hardware support than most Distros, so will install without requiring massive amounts of manual intervention to get things like WiFi working.

Also the Linux package manager manages dependancies far superior than other package managers.

So you will require learning Linux if you're going to use Linux penetration tools provided by Kali.
thedslguyComputer and Network ConsultantAuthor Commented:
David Favor:

Thanks for the response.  Is learning Ubuntu adequate, or do I need  a working knowledge of the Linux kernel?

What I mean is, my goal is to learn Penetration Testing.  I realize, most of that happens in a Linux environment (Kali being the distro of choice).   So with that in mind, do I need to know more than operation of Ubuntu to move on to Kali?

David FavorLinux/LXD/WordPress/Hosting SavantCommented:
Ubuntu is adequate.

You'll rarely require knowing Kernel details to understand how to run Kali tools.

You may occasionally dip into Kernel details, if you're actually doing deep penetration, where you actually run a victim machine + penetrate it + take it over.

In fact, running victim machines with known exploits is an excellent way to learn how machines are compromised.

Get used to running Kali tools first, before you try actually exploiting machines.

Note: There's a huge difference between scanning a machine + identifying available exploits (pen testing) + actually taking over machines.

These are two very different activities.

For taking over machines, in many cases, you'll require an intimate knowledge of the target OS + Kernel details.

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thedslguyComputer and Network ConsultantAuthor Commented:
David Favor:

Thanks for the tip.

You've been really helpful.

Thanks again

thedslguyComputer and Network ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Thanks to both of you.

Murali, I appreciate the response, but I didn't really understand what you meant.  Thank yoku anyway.

I disagree
They both have command prompts that work that same.  The main difference will be some of the graphic interface.  Just learn the one graphical interface.

Kali Linux is based off Debian.  Ubuntu is based off Debian.  You can just install Kali and learn debian Linux commands.  There is nothing inherently easier in Ubuntu versus Kali.  Might as well just learn in the environment you plan to work in.  You don't have to run all the extra Kali tools, but it will still be available.  That way you don't have to reinstall it later.

Kali Linux is Linux.  It just has the extra tools included to do the penetration testing.  You could install those same tools into ubuntu, but Kali has it already.
nociSoftware EngineerCommented:
Kali is just Linux + pentesting tools.... There is nothing special about it (besides teh pentesting tools)...
You could start with ANY Linux and install all those tools yourself.  (basicly Linux is only the kernel..., anything else is tooling making use ot the Linux kernel. (Compared with Windows: Linux = NtKrnl,    X + GNome or X+KDE (or X + some window manager) = Win32.
The remailed is tooling like tooling you can install onWindows. (There is Zip etc. basic tools)  graphics tools etc. etc.
Office tools like LibreOffice, KOffice is needed.

So learning scripting, working with command lines is equivalent. Wether you choose Kali, Debian, Ubuntu, RHEL, Fedore, Gentoo ....
if you want to learn Linux Distro's Get familiar with one you need (f.e. Kali) and ALSO install & use Other variants...
- Debian (as it is the core of Kali)
- Fedora (as it is a precusor for RH Family), possibly CentOS..., just to see how they do stuff.
- Gentoo (as it is build from sources, (everything)).
- Alpine or Linux from Scratch as they provide starting point for minimalistic environments...
- DD-WRT is a nice place to get acquanted with Embedded software.
Just to learn how disto's work....
You should NOT only learn the latest and greatest, but also some from History to learn how things evolve.
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