How to Install Kali Linux 2020 on Laptop PC (Single Boot)

This guide describes how to install the latest Kali Linux 2020.3 (and newer versions) on your computer or laptop as the primary OS.

Although I do not recommend using Kali Linux as your daily driver, and the developers do not recommend using it either. But I make this tutorial for people who know Kali well or who are brave enough to give it a shot.

If you are looking for a Linux distro that you can use for pentest with and also use as your daily computer, I suggest you check out Parrot OS in this post.

What You’ll Need

  1. A USB flash drive with a minimum capacity of 8GB. An SD card with a card reader can also be used. In fact, that is what I used in this tutorial. (You may use a 4GB USB or SD card if that’s what you have. It should work but I didn’t test it).
  2. Download Kali Linux 2020 Installer file. (Choose 64-Bit or 32-Bit Installer according to your computer’s architecture).
  3. Download Etcher for burning the Kali Linux file on your USB stick or SD card.

Preparing to Install Kali Linux

Using the prerequisites listed above, we are going to make an installation media (which can either be a bootable USB flash drive or DVD), for the clean install of Kali Linux 2020.3 on our laptop’s hard disk.

The following steps will guide you through making a bootable Kali USB drive: 

1. Plug your USB drive into your PC and launch etcher. Etcher will automagically detect your USB drive storage. If not, click “change” to select the appropriate storage drive.

2. Click “select image” to open your file explorer and attach the Kali Linux Installer file you downloaded.

3. When you are absolutely sure that you have selected the right drive, and the Kali Linux file, you can then go ahead and click “Flash”!

Note: This operation will permanently delete everything you have on the flash drive and it’s is not recoverable. Make a backup of the content if necessary.

Install Kali Linux 2020.3 on your Laptop Hard Disk

With the bootable USB flash you created in hand, you are all set to proceed with the installation of Kali Linux on your computer’s hard disk.

Caution: The following steps describe a clean installation method. It will wipe EVERYTHING on your hard drive! Including whatever Windows version you have installed, and replace it with a fresh install of Kali Linux 2020.3. Please don’t proceed unless you absolutely understand the implication of what you are doing.

Step 1: Boot your computer from the Kali USB drive you created.

Plug in your bootable USB drive on your computer and restart it. As soon as your computer reboots and it’s trying to come back on, quickly press the special key designated to launch the boot or startup menu.

On the next screen, for this computer, pressing the key F9 will open the Boot Device Options menu. There I will select the Kali USB drive as the boot device.

In your case, the keys you’ll press on your PC to access the boot menu might be different, just do a quick Google search for the instructions!

Step 2: On the Kali Boot Screen. Select Graphical Install and press enter.

Kali Linux 2020 installation boot screen

Step 3: Select your preferred system language.

Select Kali system language

Step 4: Specify your geographic location.

Select system location

Step 5: Select your preferred keyboard layout.

Select system keyboard

Step 6: The installer will now copy over the Kali image on to your hard disk, probe your network interfaces, and prompt you to enter a system hostname. I will leave the hostname as the default “Kali”. Change yours if you want.

Set Kali Linux 2020 system hostname to "Kali"

Step 7: (Optional) You may add this Kali machine to your local domain or press enter to skip.

Enter domain name

Step 8: Create a standard, non-administrative user for the system.

This will be the user account that you will use for every day running of this Kali machine. (Kudos to the Kali team for adding this step! This was not there until these latest Kali Linux 2020 releases).

Create unprivileged user for Kali Linux 2020

Create a username for the standard user

Create unprivileged user for Kali Linux 2020

Set a password for the standard user.

Create unprivileged user for Kali Linux 2020

Step 9: Set the system time zone.

Set Kali system time zone

Step 10: Now the installer will launch the disk partitioner and offer you 4 options. I recommend beginners to select the Guided – use entire disk option.

Use entire disk Kali Linux 2020 installation

Select the disk to be partitioned. Only your laptop’s hard disk will probably be listed here.

Partition laptop hard disk for Kali Linux 2020 installation

Select how you want the disk to be partitioned.

I recommend you choose the separate /home partition option. Because by having your user files and system files on separate partitions, you can upgrade the system freely without the risk of losing your documents, photos, videos, and other user files.

Separate /home partition Kali Linux 2020 installation

Review your disk partitioning configuration.

Finish system partitioning

Write the changes to disk. This is the last time to change your mind after now, the disk formatting cannot be reversed. Select yes and press enter.

Confirm system partitioning

Step 11: (Optional) If you use a proxy, enter the HTTP proxy information or press enter to skip it.

Enter Kali proxy

Step 12: Choose what software you would like to install.

Kali Linux 2020 releases now give users the option to decide what Kali desktop environment, and what amount of cybersecurity tools to install during the installation.

In the example below, I chose the Xfce desktop environment (default) & the light base system with no pentesting tools.

Remember, if your selection is anything but the default package selection, you will need an internet connection to download the extra data.

Select software to install, Kali Linux 2020 installation

Step 13: Select “yes” to install GRUB bootloader.

Install GRUB bootloader on Kali system

Select your laptop’s hard disk to install GRUB on.

Install GRUB bootloader on Kali system

Step 14: Finally, give the installer a little while to wrap things up… Installation completed!

Kali Linux 2020 installation on laptop completed

Congrats! You have just succeeded in installing Kali Linux 2020 on your laptop or computer as the primary OS. You may go ahead to update the system and install the other tools you will need.

Wondering what to do next? I invite you to follow my How to Become a Hacker series to learn practical ethical hacking and put your Kali Linux machine to good use.

In the mean time, you should check these recommended posts below.

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