How to Create a Bootable USB Installation for Kali Linux

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How to Create a Bootable USB Installation for Kali Linux

Like This Blog 2 Mike Danseglio
Added by December 14, 2015

I use Kali Linux extensively when doing penetration testing and security assessments. Besides being fast, Kali Linux has pretty much every security tool I need built right in. On top of that, it’s free!

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Another benefit, the topic of this blog, is that Kali Linux is easily installed on and run from a USB stick. Here’s how you can make your own bootable Kali Linux USB stick.

First, gather the necessary supplies. These are:

  • A working PC running Windows 7 or later. I build the image from a current PC.
  • A blank USB stick. It must be 8GB or larger, and should be USB 3 for speed.
  • The original installation ISO from Do not download it from anywhere else, as you never know what you’re getting.
  • Win32 Disk Imager. I always grab the most current version directly from SourceForge.

Before messing with the software I insert the USB stick in the PC and make sure it is recognized. I also remove any other USB or removable media to prevent mishaps.

Next, I fire up Win32 Disk Imager.


It’s got a lovely clean interface! Notice how it found the USB stick mounted as drive E on the right side.

Now I click the blue folder icon to the right of the Image File box. This opens a file browse window. I browse to the downloaded Kali Linux ISO and click OK.

Special note: If the ISO doesn’t appear on the file list, drop down the file type and choose *.* because, by default, Win32 Disk Imager only displays IMG files.


Now all I need to do is click Write. Win32 Disk Imager automatically formats the USB stick as bootable and copies the Kali Linux files into the proper locations.

After about 5 minutes Win32 Disk Imager announces that it’s finished. Now that USB stick can be used as a boot device (on any PC that boots to USB) to run Kali Linux.


Mike Danseglio – CISSP, MCSE, and CEH

Mike Danseglio teaches IT Security Training, Windows, System Center and Windows Server 2012 classes at Interface Technical Training. His classes are available in Phoenix, AZ and online with RemoteLive™.

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