Creating an Installation USB Stick for Kali Linux

Home > Blogs > Security > Creating an Installation USB Stick for Kali Linux

Creating an Installation USB Stick for Kali Linux

Like This Blog 5 Mike Danseglio
Added by April 15, 2015

Kali Linux is an ultra-powerful security tool. I use it extensively when doing Wi-Fi penetration testing, network security evaluations, and security audit tasks. It is freely downloadable from as an ISO.

I want to get the best possible performance out of Kali. To do that, I typically create a bootable installation on a USB stick and then install from the stick to a dedicated hard disk partition. There’s tremendous reusability value in preparing an installation stick, as you can use a single stick to install Kali Linux whenever and wherever you need it.

In this blog I’ll show you how to prepare the USB stick.

Necessary Supplies Before You Begin

You’ll need a few things to get started:

  • The current Kali Linux ISO from Kali Linux Images. Download either the 32-bit or 64-bit version depending on the hardware you’re eventually installing Kali on.
  • UNetbootin software from UNetbootin – Homepage and Downloads. Download the latest version for the platform you’re currently running – versions are available for Windows, Mac OS X, and several flavors of Linux including Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, and Arch.
  • A blank USB stick. Although you can get away with a 4GB stick, I prefer an 8GB USB 3 stick for speed and future expansion. Faster USB memory speeds mean faster installations, but even a slowpoke stick will be fast enough for setup.
  • A running computer. Whatever computer you’re using to download the Kali ISO and UNetbootin is fine. You’ll need a computer to prepare the USB stick prior to installation. This can be the same computer that you eventually install Kali Linux on, but it doesn’t have to be.

Now it’s time to setup Kali on the stick!

Setting Up Kali On the USB Stick

I’m demonstrating this on Windows 7, so your mileage may vary on OS X or Linux.

First, connect the USB stick to the computer. It should go without saying that things go faster when you plug a USB 3 stick into a USB 3 port, but a mismatch won’t hurt anything.

Now run UNetbootin.exe You don’t need to install it on Windows, just double-click the executable.

Click the Diskimage radio button and specify the Kali Linux ISO that you downloaded.

Verify that Type shows USB Drive and the Drive is set to your target USB stick. These settings are shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1. The configured UNetbootin screen.

Now click OK to start the fun! You may receive an error message depending on the files already on the USB stick. For example, when overwriting a previous Kali Linux image, this dialog box appears for me:


Figure 2. Confirmation before destruction.

Once I click Yes to All, UNetbootin shows the progress as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3. Confirmation before destruction.

That’s about it. The process takes a variable amount of time depending on computer load, size of the ISO, and speed of the USB stick. Eventually it will successfully complete and yield a bootable drive.


Mike Danseglio -CISSP / MCSE / CEH
Interface Technical Training – Technical Director and Instructor

Mike Danseglio teaches Security classes at Interface Technical Training. His classes can be attended in Phoenix, Arizona or online from anywhere in the world with RemoteLive.

Videos You May Like

Agile Methodology in Project Management

0 153 0

In this video, you will gain an understanding of Agile and Scrum Master Certification terminologies and concepts to help you make better decisions in your Project Management capabilities. Whether you’re a developer looking to obtain an Agile or Scrum Master Certification, or you’re a Project Manager/Product Owner who is attempting to get your product or … Continue reading Agile Methodology in Project Management

Windows 10 Features and Navigation – December 1, 2015

0 114 1

In this recorded Windows 10 webinar from December 1,2015, Windows Instructor Steve Fullmer presents the navigation and some of the new features associated with Windows 10 including Sysinternals Tools for Windows Client, Windows core concepts, exploring Process Explorer as well as some of the features that are not yet ready for prime time but will … Continue reading Windows 10 Features and Navigation – December 1, 2015

Detailed Forensic Investigation of Malware Infections – April 21, 2015

4 606 5

How does an investigator hunt down and identify unknown malware? In this recording of our IT Security training webinar on April 21, 2015, Security expert Mike Danseglio (CISSP / CEH) performed several malware investigations on infected computers and identify symptoms, find root cause, and follow the leads to determine what’s happening. He demonstrated his preferred … Continue reading Detailed Forensic Investigation of Malware Infections – April 21, 2015

Write a Comment

See what people are saying...

  1. Avatar sam

    you can use UUI(universal USB installer)..simple and safe….careful while choosing which flavour to be written to USB…

  2. Avatar Mike Danseglio

    Nick, usually your computer’s BIOS has a key for interrupting the boot process and specifying a boot device. F2 or F12 are the most common. Then just select the USB stick that you created.

  3. Avatar Mike Danseglio

    Damien, you can use either Win32 Disk Imager or unetbootin. You could also use dd (if you’ve already got Linux running) or even Rufus, which is my new favorite. 🙂

  4. Avatar DamienNg63

    Is unetbootin fully working with kali linux ? Some other sources say we have to use Win32 Disk Imager.

  5. Avatar nick

    how do i boot it now that I have it ???

Share your thoughts...

Please fill out the comment form below to post a reply.