The History of Kali Linux Distribution

In cybersecurity and digital forensics, penetration testing plays a crucial role in identifying and mitigating exploitable vulnerabilities in a system. A number of tools have been developed to help pentesters efficiently conduct penetrations tests, one of which is Kali Linux.

What is Kali Linux

Kali Linux is an advanced Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking Linux distribution that is maintained and funded by Offensive Security, a world-class provider of penetration testing services and information security training.

Kali Linux is an open-source rolling release based on the Debian Testing branch. It supports hundreds of cybersecurity-related tools such as Nmap, Wireshark, Metasploit framework, Maltego, and Burpsuite to mention a few.

Let us now do back in history and see the origin of Kali and how it rose to become one of the most popular penetration testing operating systems.

History of Kali Linux

The first Kali Linux project was originally called Whoppix, also referred to as WhiteHat Knoppix. As the name suggests, it was based on Knoppix. Whoppix had released from v2.0 to v2.7.

Whoppix made way for WHAX, short for WhiteHat Slax. The name change was informed by the change in the base OS from Knoppix to Slax. WHAX started at v3 and picked up from where Whoppix left off.

At around the same time, Auditor Security Collection, or simply Auditor, was a similar OS being developed. With concerted efforts between Auditor, Knoppix, and WHAX, BackTrack was born. It was based on Slackware from v1 to v3 and later switched to Ubuntu with v4 to v5.

Kali Linux was officially released in 2013, taking over from BackTrack. It started using Debian stable before transitioning to Debian testing when Kali became a rolling OS.

Here is the complete picture of the timelines.

Date Project Released Base OS
30th August 2004 Whoppix v2 Knoppix
17th July 2005 WHAX v3 Slax
26th May 2006 BackTrack v1 Slackware Live CD 10.2.0
06th March 2007 BackTrack v2 Slackware Live CD 11.0.0
19th June 2008 BackTrack v3 Slackware Live CD 12.0.0
9th Jan 2010 BackTrack v4 (Pwnsauce) Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)
10th May 2011 BackTrack v5 (Revolution) Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)
13th March 2013 Kali Linux v1 (Moto) Debian 7 (Wheezy)
11th August 2015 Kali Linux v2 (Sana) Debian 8 (Jessie)
16th Jan 2016 Kali Linux Rolling Debian Testing

Kali Linux Supported Platforms

Kali Linux is distributed in both 32-bit and 64-bit ISO images for Intel-based systems.

It is also available as prebuilt virtual machines for VirtualBox and VMware with guest tools already installed. These images are available in 64-bit (amd64), and 32-bit PAE (i*86) formats.

You also get prebuilt images for the ARM architecture suitable for a wide range of devices.

Alternatives to Kali Linux

Kali Linux is the most popular and widely used penetration testing system for cyber security experts and white hackers. Other distributions dedicated to penetration testing include Parrot OS, Black Arch, BackBox, and Wifislax.

This wraps up our guide on the history of Kali Linux which is the de facto Penetration Testing Linux distribution.

Got something to say? Join the discussion.

Have a question or suggestion? Please leave a comment to start the discussion. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated and your email address will NOT be published.