How to create a Kali Linux VM

Warnings

  • The installation scripts and provided tools may have bugs, be vulnerable to Man in the Middle (MitM) attacks or other vulnerabilities.

  • Adding additional repositories or tools for installing software extends your trust to those tool providers.

  • Please keep in mind that using such a VM or VM’s based on the template for security and privacy critical tasks is not recommended.

  • Kali Linux distribution is a rolling distribution based constantly on Debian testing release, so it always will have newer software base than available in Qubes OS debian template. Keep in mind that it may result in problems (especially in regard to package dependency) not covered by this tutorial.

Qubes 3.2

How to Create a Kali Linux VM

This guide is being created to give guidance on ways in which you could create a Kali Linux penetration testing VM (qube) in Qubes OS.

Kali Linux is the most widely used penetration testing Linux distribution.

There are multiple ways to create a Kali Linux VM:

  1. Create a HVM and use the offical ISO to install the system or convert a Virtual Image. Explained here.
  2. Clone the Qubes OS latest Debian template image and turn it into a Kali Linux distribution:

Kali Linux HVM

  1. Download the Kali installation DVD

  2. Create a new HVM

  3. Start the HVM with attached CD/DVD

     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-start <hvm-name> --cdrom <vm-name>:/home/user/Downloads/<iso-name>.iso
    

Debian based Kali Template with Katoolin

Note: The prompt on each line indicates where each command should be entered (@dom0, @debian-<X> or @kali).

  1. (Optional) Check for latest Debian stable template and install it (if not already done)

     [user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update --action="search all" qubes-template-debian
     [user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update <latest Debian template>
    
  2. Start, update and close your latest Debian template

     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-start debian-<X>
     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-run -a debian-<X> gnome-terminal
     [user@debian-<X> ~]$ sudo apt-get update
     [user@debian-<X> ~]$ sudo apt-get upgrade
     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-shutdown debian-<X>
    
  3. Clone debian-<X> template (two options)

    1. Via Qubes VM Manager

      Clone Debian Template

    2. Via command line

      [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-clone debian-<X> kali
      
  4. Check the name of currently used repository in /etc/apt/sources.list and current testing Debian release. Update repository list accordingly

     [user@kali ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/<current stable>/<current testing>/g' /etc/apt/sources.list
     [user@kali ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/<current stable>/<current testing>/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qubes-r<X>.list
    

    e.g. in this example we update stretch stable repository to buster testing repository

     [user@kali ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/stretch/buster/g' /etc/apt/sources.list
     [user@kali ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/stretch/buster/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qubes-r<X>.list
    
  5. Upgrade kali template to latest Debian testing release

     [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get update
     [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
     [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get autoremove
    

    Note: During execution of a dist-upgrade command read carefully list of packages to be removed. If it contains qubes-* packages, terminate operation and try to resolve qubes-* packages missing dependencies first.

  6. Install Katoolin and add Kali Linux repositories

    1. Install Katoolin

      [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get install git
      [user@kali ~]$ git clone https://github.com/LionSec/katoolin.git
      [user@kali ~]$ sudo cp katoolin/katoolin.py /usr/bin/katoolin
      [user@kali ~]$ sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/katoolin
      [user@kali ~]$ rm -rf katoolin
      
    2. Add Kali Linux repositories

      • start katoolin

          [user@kali ~]$ sudo katoolin
        
      • select ‘Add Kali repositories & Update’

          1) Add Kali repositories & Update
          2) View Categories
          3) Install classicmenu indicator
          4) Install Kali menu
          5) Help
        
          kat > 1
        

        Add Kali repositories and Update menu

      • select ‘Add kali linux repositories’

          1) Add kali linux repositories
          2) Update
          3) Remove all kali linux repositories
          4) View the contents of sources.list file
        
          What do you want to do ?> 1
        

        Add Kali repositories

      • update Kali repositories

          1) Add kali linux repositories
          2) Update
          3) Remove all kali linux repositories
          4) View the contents of sources.list file
        
          What do you want to do ?> 2
        
      • quit katoolin by pressing CRTL + c keys

          What do you want to do ?> ^CShutdown requested...Goodbye...
        
  7. Clean up and update kali template

    [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
    [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get autoremove
    
  8. Shutdown and trim kali template

    • Shutdown kali template

        [user@kali ~]$ sudo shutdown -h now
      
    • In dom0 console:

        [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-trim-template kali
      
  9. Start image

     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-start kali
    
  10. Install tools

    Note Resize the template disk image to at least 20GB if you plan on installing all packages from Kali distribution.

    1. View Categories

      • start katoolin

          [user@kali ~]$ sudo katoolin
        
      • select 2) View Categories

    2. Select the categories/tools you want to install

  11. Create a AppVMs based on the kali template

    • (Optional) Attach necessary devices

Kali Linux TemplateVM from a Debian template

This section will explain how to create your own Kali Linux TemplateVM based on a current stable Debian TemplateVM. The basic idea is to personalize the template with all the tools needed, and then spin up isolated AppVMs based on the template.

The steps can be summarised as:

  1. Install Qubes stable Debian template
  2. Upgrade the template to Debian testing release
  3. Install Kali Linux through the kali-linux-full package
  4. Use the template to build AppVM so that you can maintain isolation between e.g. pentesting jobs

Get Kali Linux GPG key

CAUTION: Before proceeding, please carefully read On Digital Signatures and Key Verification. This website cannot guarantee that any PGP key you download from the Internet is authentic. Always obtain a trusted key fingerprint via other channels, and always check any key you download against your trusted copy of the fingerprint.

This step is required since by (security) default a TemplateVM do not have a direct Internet connectivity. Users understanding the risks of enabling such access can change this configuration in firewall settings for the TemplateVM.

Note: The prompt on each line indicates where each command should be entered (@dom0, @kali-rolling, @xxxx-dvm or @debian-<X>).

  1. Retrive the Kali Linux GPG key using a DispVM.

     [user@xxxx-dvm ~]$ gpg --keyserver hkp://keys.gnupg.net --recv-key 44C6513A8E4FB3D30875F758ED444FF07D8D0BF6
     [user@xxxx-dvm ~]$ gpg --list-keys --with-fingerprint 44C6513A8E4FB3D30875F758ED444FF07D8D0BF6 
     [user@xxxx-dvm ~]$ gpg --export --armor 44C6513A8E4FB3D30875F758ED444FF07D8D0BF6 > kali-key.asc
    
  2. DO NOT TURN OFF the DispVM, the kali-key.asc file will be copied to the Kali Linux template in a further step.

  3. Make sure the key is the authentic Kali key. See the Kali website for further advice and instructions on verification.

Create a Kali Linux (rolling) template

These instructions will show you how to upgrade a Debian TemplateVM to Kali Linux.

  1. (Optional) Check for latest Debian stable template and install it (if not already done)

     [user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update --action="search all" qubes-template-debian
     [user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update <latest Debian template>
    
  2. Start, update and close your latest Debian template

     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-start debian-<X>
     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-run -a debian-<X> gnome-terminal
     [user@debian-<X> ~]$ sudo apt-get update
     [user@debian-<X> ~]$ sudo apt-get upgrade
     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-shutdown debian-<X>
    
  3. Clone debian-X template

     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-clone debian-<X> kali-rolling
    
  4. Check the name of currently used repository in /etc/apt/sources.list and current testing Debian release. Update repository list accordingly

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/<current stable>/<current testing>/g' /etc/apt/sources.list
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/<current stable>/<current testing>/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qubes-r<X>.list
    

    e.g. in this example we update stretch stable repository to buster testing repository

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/stretch/buster/g' /etc/apt/sources.list
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/stretch/buster/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qubes-r<X>.list
    
  5. Upgrade kali-rolling template to latest Debian testing release

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get update
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get autoremove
    

Note: During execution of a dist-upgrade command read carefully list of packages to be removed. If it contains qubes-* packages, terminate operation and try to resolve qubes-* packages missing dependencies first.

  1. Copy the Kali GPG key from the DispVM to the new template:

     [user@xxxx-dvm ~]$ qvm-copy-to-vm kali-rolling kali-key.asc
    

    The DispVM can now be turned off.

  2. Add the Kali GPG key to the list of keys trusted to authenticate packages:

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ cat /home/user/QubesIncoming/dispXXX/kali-key.asc | sudo apt-key add -
    

    This command should return OK on a line by itself.

  3. Attempt the upgrade process in the new template.

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo cat <<EOF > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/kali.list
     # Kali Linux repository
     deb http://http.kali.org/kali kali-rolling main non-free contrib
     EOF
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get update
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get autoremove
    
  4. Shut down and trim the new template.

     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-shutdown kali-rolling
     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-trim-template kali-rolling
    
  5. Ensure a terminal can be opened in the new template.

    [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-run -a kali-rolling gnome-terminal
    

Install the Kali tools

At this point you should have a working template and you can install the tools you need.

  1. Resize the template disk image if you plan on installing the full Kali distribution. For example to install kali-linux-full you must grow the size of the VM system from 10GB to at least 20GB.

  2. Install Kali Linux tools:

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get install kali-linux-full
    
  3. (Optional) Customise the template’s home directory (e.g. install your licensed copy of Burp Suite Professional)

Use the template

The template is ready to be used. You can now spin up AppVMs based on the kali-rolling template.

Qubes 4.0

How to Create a Kali Linux VM

This guide is being created to give guidance on ways in which you could create a Kali Linux penetration testing VM (qube) in Qubes OS.

Kali Linux is the most widely used penetration testing Linux distribution.

There are multiple ways to create a Kali Linux VM:

  1. Create a HVM and use the offical ISO to install the system or convert a Virtual Image. Explained here.
  2. Clone the Qubes OS latest Debian template image and turn it into a Kali Linux distribution:

Kali Linux HVM

  1. Download the Kali installation DVD

  2. Create a new HVM

  3. Start the HVM with attached CD/DVD

     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-start <hvm-name> --cdrom <vm-name>:/home/user/Downloads/<iso-name>.iso
    

Debian based Kali Template with Katoolin

Note: The prompt on each line indicates where each command should be entered (@dom0, @debian-<X> or @kali).

  1. (Optional) Check for latest Debian stable template and install it (if not already done)

     [user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update --action="search all" qubes-template-debian
     [user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update <latest Debian template>
    
  2. Start, update and close your latest Debian template

     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-start debian-<X>
     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-run -a debian-<X> gnome-terminal
     [user@debian-<X> ~]$ sudo apt-get update
     [user@debian-<X> ~]$ sudo apt-get upgrade
     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-shutdown debian-<X>
    
  3. Clone debian-<X> template (two options)

    1. Via Qubes VM Manager

      Clone Debian Template

    2. Via command line

      [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-clone debian-<X> kali
      
  4. Check the name of currently used repository in /etc/apt/sources.list and current testing Debian release. Update repository list accordingly.

     [user@kali ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/<current stable>/<current testing>/g' /etc/apt/sources.list
     [user@kali ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/<current stable>/<current testing>/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qubes-r<X>.list
    

    e.g. in this example we update stretch stable repository to buster testing repository

     [user@kali ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/stretch/buster/g' /etc/apt/sources.list
     [user@kali ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/stretch/buster/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qubes-r<X>.list
    
  5. Upgrade kali template to latest Debian testing release

     [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get update
     [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
     [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get autoremove
    

    Note: During execution of a dist-upgrade command read carefully list of packages to be removed. If it contains qubes-* packages, terminate operation and try to resolve qubes-* packages missing dependencies first.

  6. Install Katoolin and add Kali Linux repositories

    1. Install Katoolin

      [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get install git
      [user@kali ~]$ git clone https://github.com/LionSec/katoolin.git
      [user@kali ~]$ sudo cp katoolin/katoolin.py /usr/bin/katoolin
      [user@kali ~]$ sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/katoolin
      [user@kali ~]$ rm -rf katoolin
      
    2. Add Kali Linux repositories

      • start katoolin

          [user@kali ~]$ sudo katoolin
        
      • select ‘Add Kali repositories & Update’

          1) Add Kali repositories & Update
          2) View Categories
          3) Install classicmenu indicator
          4) Install Kali menu
          5) Help
        
          kat > 1
        

        Add Kali repositories and Update menu

      • select ‘Add kali linux repositories’

          1) Add kali linux repositories
          2) Update
          3) Remove all kali linux repositories
          4) View the contents of sources.list file
        
          What do you want to do ?> 1
        

        Add Kali repositories

      • update Kali repositories

          1) Add kali linux repositories
          2) Update
          3) Remove all kali linux repositories
          4) View the contents of sources.list file
        
          What do you want to do ?> 2
        
      • quit katoolin by pressing CRTL + c keys

          What do you want to do ?> ^CShutdown requested...Goodbye...
        
  7. Clean up and update kali template

    [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
    [user@kali ~]$ sudo apt-get autoremove
    
  8. Install tools

    Note Resize the template disk image to at least 20GB if you plan on installing all packages from Kali distribution.

    1. View Categories

      • start katoolin

          [user@kali ~]$ sudo katoolin
        
      • select 2) View Categories

    2. Select the categories/tools you want to install

  9. Create a AppVMs based on the kali template

    • (Optional) Attach necessary devices

Kali Linux TemplateVM from a Debian template

This section will explain how to create your own Kali Linux TemplateVM based on a current stable Debian TemplateVM. The basic idea is to personalize the template with all the tools needed, and then spin up isolated AppVMs based on the template.

The steps can be summarised as:

  1. Install Qubes stable Debian template
  2. Upgrade the template to Debian testing release
  3. Install Kali Linux through the kali-linux-full package
  4. Use the template to build AppVM so that you can maintain isolation between e.g. pentesting jobs

Get Kali Linux GPG key

CAUTION: Before proceeding, please carefully read On Digital Signatures and Key Verification. This website cannot guarantee that any PGP key you download from the Internet is authentic. Always obtain a trusted key fingerprint via other channels, and always check any key you download against your trusted copy of the fingerprint.

This step is required since by (security) default a TemplateVM do not have a direct Internet connectivity. Users understanding the risks of enabling such access can change this configuration in firewall settings for the TemplateVM.

Note: The prompt on each line indicates where each command should be entered (@dom0, @kali-rolling, @xxxx-dvm or @debian-<X>).

  1. Retrive the Kali Linux GPG key using a DispVM.

     [user@xxxx-dvm ~]$ gpg --keyserver hkp://keys.gnupg.net --recv-key 44C6513A8E4FB3D30875F758ED444FF07D8D0BF6
     [user@xxxx-dvm ~]$ gpg --list-keys --with-fingerprint 44C6513A8E4FB3D30875F758ED444FF07D8D0BF6 
     [user@xxxx-dvm ~]$ gpg --export --armor 44C6513A8E4FB3D30875F758ED444FF07D8D0BF6 > kali-key.asc
    
  2. DO NOT TURN OFF the DispVM, the kali-key.asc file will be copied to the Kali Linux template in a further step.

  3. Make sure the key is the authentic Kali key. See the Kali website for further advice and instructions on verification.

Create a Kali Linux (rolling) template

These instructions will show you how to upgrade a Debian TemplateVM to Kali Linux.

  1. (Optional) Check for latest Debian stable template and install it (if not already done)

     [user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update --action="search all" qubes-template-debian
     [user@dom0 ~]$ sudo qubes-dom0-update <latest Debian template>
    
  2. Start, update and close your latest Debian template

     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-start debian-<X>
     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-run -a debian-<X> gnome-terminal
     [user@debian-<X> ~]$ sudo apt-get update
     [user@debian-<X> ~]$ sudo apt-get upgrade
     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-shutdown debian-<X>
    
  3. Clone debian-X template

     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-clone debian-<X> kali-rolling
    
  4. Check the name of currently used repository in /etc/apt/sources.list and current testing Debian release. Update repository list accordingly

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/<current stable>/<current testing>/g' /etc/apt/sources.list
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/<current stable>/<current testing>/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qubes-r<X>.list
    

    e.g. in this example we update stretch stable repository to buster testing repository

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/stretch/buster/g' /etc/apt/sources.list
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo sed -i 's/stretch/buster/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/qubes-r<X>.list
    
  5. Upgrade kali-rolling template to latest Debian testing release

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get update
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get autoremove
    

Note: During execution of a dist-upgrade command read carefully list of packages to be removed. If it contains qubes-* packages, terminate operation and try to resolve qubes-* packages missing dependencies first.

  1. Copy the Kali GPG key from the DispVM to the new template:

     [user@xxxx-dvm ~]$ qvm-copy kali-key.asc
    

    The DispVM can now be turned off.

  2. Add the Kali GPG key to the list of keys trusted to authenticate packages:

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ cat /home/user/QubesIncoming/dispXXX/kali-key.asc | sudo apt-key add -
    

    This command should return OK on a line by itself.

  3. Attempt the upgrade process in the new template.

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo cat <<EOF > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/kali.list
     # Kali Linux repository
     deb http://http.kali.org/kali kali-rolling main non-free contrib
     EOF
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get update
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get autoremove
    
  4. Ensure a terminal can be opened in the new template.

     [user@dom0 ~]$ qvm-run -a kali-rolling gnome-terminal
    

Install the Kali tools

At this point you should have a working template and you can install the tools you need.

  1. Resize the template disk image if you plan on installing the full Kali distribution. For example to install kali-linux-full you must grow the size of the VM system from 10GB to at least 20GB.

  2. Install Kali Linux tools:

     [user@kali-rolling ~]$ sudo apt-get install kali-linux-full
    
  3. (Optional) Customise the template’s home directory (e.g. install your licensed copy of Burp Suite Professional)

Use the template

The template is ready to be used. You can now spin up AppVMs based on the kali-rolling template.

Alternative Options to Kali Linux

Notes

Thanks to the people in the discussion thread.