To increase the precision, speed, and simplicity of pen testing, Kali Linux, a Debian-based Linux distribution, offers a variety of special and optimized applications. 

On the surface, Kali looks identical to any other operating system: it can be installed, runs all the same programs operating on Windows and macOS, and plays audio and text files. We can access the internet thanks to it. However, unlike other operating systems, Kali has a sizable number of pre-installed tried-and-true apps, making it more than just a basic operating system.

BackTrack Linux was rebranded and given the Kali name in 2013, along with a GNOME interface. The developers removed all the excess fat by deleting BackTrack's inferior utilities and updating the ones that were well-liked by the WhiteHat community.

The Kali OS offers a publicly accessible open-source Git tree, is completely free, and comes with about 600 tools. The phrase "pen-testing" has become synonymous with Kali Linux among cybersecurity experts due to its growing popularity.

How to update Kali Linux?

If you have Kali installed by default, you should regularly check for updates. The timeline could be accelerated if you require a new version of a tool or learn of a security upgrade. 

A smart practice is to check that all tools function before an engagement, and you shouldn't update while you're there. Since Kali is a rolling release, occasionally, problems will arise and may break a necessary tool. Kali uses the Debian Package management system. This means you can update and upgrade your system via the apt or apt-get command. 

The prerequisites for updating Kali are: 

  • A machine with Kali Linux (it is best to install Kali as a VM)
  • (Ctrl+Alt+T) access to a terminal window or command line
  • a user account with root or sudo access

1. Examine the source list files

Ensure the system is connected to the correct remote repository before using the APT package management to obtain updates. 

The URLs from which Kali installs packages and apps are listed in the configuration files /etc/apt/source.list and /etc/apt/source.list.d.

Check the source by opening the configuration files:

cat /etc/apt/source.list

The URL deb kali-rolling main contrib non-free should be displayed in the output.

The same holds true for the files located in /etc/apt/source.list.d/.

2. Update Package Manager 

The next step in updating Kali is updating the package repository before installing the most recent software to ensure you receive the most recent versions. 

For the most recent package lists, enter the following command:

apt update

Versions of Kali up to 2020.1 had a root user as the default user. They switched to the conventional security strategy of using a non-root user as more users began using Kali as their primary operating system. 

Toor serves as the root user's default password. Verify that the Linux sudo command prefix is added if you are not logged in as the root user.

3. Update Kali Linux

You can now conduct the upgrade, which installs Kali Linux's most recent packages and updates. For updating Kali, you can use the following three commands:

  • apt upgrade
  • apt full-upgrade
  • apt dist-upgrade

However, they are slightly different. 

Using the apt upgrade command, you will download and update packages on the Kali Linux system without erasing any previously installed files.

Using the apt full-upgrade command, packages are downloaded and updated. If necessary, it also uninstalls any existing software.

By adding new packages and cleverly managing changing dependencies, the apt dist-upgrade command accomplishes the same task as a standard upgrade.

After choosing your upgrading method, enter the command into the box provided. The system will prompt you to confirm the installation; to do so, type yes or y and click Enter.

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4. Get rid of extra packages.

To clear up disk space, remove unnecessary packages that remained after the update by using the following command:

apt autoremove


One of the top operating systems for penetration testing is Kali Linux. It is a popular Linux distribution that is derived from Debian.

This operating system uses a rolling release approach, with new releases appearing about four times yearly. This is why you should consistently check for updates and improvements and learn how to update Kali.

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