Today you'll learn the Kali Linux live USB installation procedure and how boot Kali Linux from USB.
By the end of this post, you'll have a USB drive with Kali Linux pre-installed that you can boot from any computer.
You'll also learn the steps on how to boot your Windows or Mac computer from a USB.
Why Install Kali Linux on a USB Drive
- You'll have a ready to use copy of Kali Linux wherever you go (pre-installed in a USB drive)
- You can run Kali Linux at any nearby computer (that supports boot from USB)
- No need to install anything or make changes to the host computer
You simply plug in your USB, boot the computer from USB, and you're ready to get hacking.
1) Download Universal USB Installer
First, you’ll need to download Universal USB installer which is a program that lets you install a selection of Linux distributions on a USB drive.
PRO TIP: You can install any linux distribution (not just Kali Linux) using this method. It’s a good way to learn and experiment with different distros.
Install Kali Linux On USB Using Universal USB Installer
Now you're going to install Kali Linux from USB using the program we just downloaded.
If you haven’t already, plug in your USB flash drive now.
Then, start the Universal USB Installer. Once you’re at the selections page, follow these steps:
- Select Kali Linux
- Select “browse” then select the Kali Linux ISO image (you downloaded)
- Select your USB flash drive, then click “Create”
PRO TIP: If you’re unsure which drive is your USB, open up “My Computer” then re-plug in your flash drive and you’ll see which drive it appears as.
Before you proceed:
Double check to make sure you selected the correct USB drive. If so, click “yes.”
Now we wait.
Depending on the write speed of your flash drive, this process might take awhile so just be patient.
You’ll know it’s complete once you see this:
How To Boot Kali Linux From USB
Boot from USB on Windows
Now you’re going to boot your computer from a USB.
If you’re on Windows, here’s how to boot from USB:
1. Restart your computer (make sure the USB drive is plugged-in)
2. Be prepared to tap “F12” to trigger boot from USB/CD (or change boot device)
NOTE: The boot key might be different for your computer. Pay close attention to the bottom part of the screen during the initial boot up. This is how mine looks like:
3. On the boot options screen, select your USB drive (using the arrow keys) then hit “Enter”
Boot from USB on Mac
Booting from a USB on a MAC is much simpler than Windows.
Here’s how to boot MAC from a USB:
- Restart your computer (make sure the USB drive is plugged-in)
- Immediately hold down the “Option/Alt” key
- Use the arrow keys (or mouse) to select “Windows” then hit “Enter”
Getting Started: Kali Linux Live USB
After booting from USB, wait for it to start up until you see the Kali boot menu.
Select the default (Live) then hit “Enter”
What is Kali Linux Live?
During a live session, any changes you make, files you download, packages you install, etc – all of it will be deleted the moment you end the live session and unplug the USB.
Each time you start a new live session, you’re starting from a clean slate.
In order to save any data or changes you make during a live session, you need to configure Persistence on your USB which I’ll be covering on a separate post.
The default login for Kali Linux is: root / toor
That’s it! Now you have Kali Linux in your pocket (or wherever you keep your flash drive), and you can launch it at any time and at any nearby computer (that supports booting from USB).