This tutorial will walk you through installing the latest version of Kali Linux as a Virtual Machine (VM) on VMware Workstation Player 14. I will also show you how to install VMware tools. Straight from the official Kali Linux Web site:
Kali Linux is a Debian-based Linux distribution aimed at advanced Penetration Testing and Security Auditing. Kali contains several hundred tools which are geared towards various information security tasks, such as Penetration Testing, Security research, Computer Forensics and Reverse Engineering. Kali Linux is developed, funded and maintained by Offensive Security, a leading information security training company.
Prerequisites, RAM, Hard Disk Requirements
The installation requirements for Kali Linux will depend on the user’s preference. On the high end, for the full Kali Linux experience, users should aim for at least 2GB of RAM and 20GB of disk space. If you don’t already have VMware Workstation Player 14, you can download it here.
Create a Kali Linux Virtual Machine (VM) in VMware Workstation
Download the ISO image file from the official Kali Linux Web site. If your operating system is a 64-bit architecture, choose the 64-bit option instead of the 32-bit option. There are other options available, for example, there are plenty of other desktop environments to choose from if you don’t like the pre-installed desktop environment that comes with Kali Linux. At the time of this writing, the current version for Kali Linux is version 2018.3. You can choose to download the file either via HTTP or Torrent.
The file size is almost 3GB, so it will take more than just a few minutes to download. In VMware, click the Create New Virtual Machine option to bring up the “New Virtual Machine Wizard” window. You’ll be asked to provide the iso file you just downloaded a moment ago. It should be located in your “Downloads” folder in File Explorer. Once you’ve selected the iso file, click Next.
Selecting the Operating System
VMware will not be able to detect which operating system is in the disc image; therefore, you will have to specify that it’s a Linux distribution. Kali Linux is a Debian-derived Linux distribution, so it makes sense to choose Debian when selecting the version, but you could choose other options, such as Oracle or Ubuntu. I chose Debian 9.x 64-bit.
Once you’ve chosen the operating system and version you wont to use, click the Next button.
Name Your VM
You’ll then be asked to name your new virtual machine. You can name it any thing you want. I chose “Kali Linux.” Some people like to specify the version, such as “Kali Linux 2018.3,” but that doesn’t make sense since Kali regularly rolls out updates.
You could always change the name later on. As for the location, you can specify that wherever you want. For example, if you want to create a new folder, now is the time to do so. I kept it at its default. Choose the Next option to continue.
Specify the Disk Capacity
As I mentioned earlier, Kali Linux needs at least 20GB of disk space. If you anticipate that you’ll be saving a large amount of files, you should go higher at around 50 to 60 GB of disk space. If you’re only doing routine penetration testing, then 20 GB is sufficient.
I have plenty of Disk space, so I chose 50 GB. There is also the option of splitting the disk into multiple files. Splitting the disk makes it easier to move the VM to another computer. Seeing as this is a feature I don’t really need, I chose to store the virtual disk as a single file. Now, click the Next button to continue.
You’re almost ready to create your new VM; however, you must customize the hardware settings first. Choose the Customize Hardware option.
Kali Linux needs a minimum of 2 GB of RAM, so never choose anything less than that. My computer only holds 6 GB of RAM, so I chose 3 GB of RAM. Last time, I chose 2GB, so I’ll see how it works with 3 GB. When it comes down to processors, I prefer giving my Kali Linux VM 2 processors to use.
Since you’ve already specified the disk image, you can skip the New CD/DVD (IDE) option and navigate straight to the Network Adapter option. You can choose the “bridged” option to connect directly to the physical network or you can choose Network Address Translation (NAT) to share your host’s IP address. I chose NAT as my network connection. Under the USB Controltters option, I chose to show all USB input devices because I have an Alfa Network Wireless USB adapter that I use for pen testing. You can pretty much keep all other hardware settings at their default unless you have a Graphics card that can be used for 3D accelerated graphics. You can modify those settings under the Display option.
Start Your New VM
Now, you can click the Finish option. Your new Kali Linux VM will now be displayed in your VMware library. Click on it and then select Play Virtual Machine.
Next, we can begin the Kali installation process.
Kali Linux – The Installation Process
The following steps will walk you through a standard Kali Linux installation.
Booting and Starting the Installer
Once the BIOS has begun booting from the disc image file you provided, the Isolinux boot loader menu appears. This is the Boot menu, and at this point, the Linux kernel is not yet loaded. The boot menu allows you to choose the kernel to boot and enter optional configuration parameters
Choose Graphical Install. Don’t accidentally choose “Install” because that’s the command-line interface version of Kali Linux.
Select the language that will be used for the installation process. Obviously, I will be choosing English.
Once you’ve selected your language, click the Continue button.
Selecting your country helps the installation process with providing an appropriate keyboard layout and timezone.
I chose United States. Click the Continue button.
Configure the Keyboard
Again, same concept. Just choose the option that’s right for you.
I chose America English. Click the Continue button. After that, the installer will detect the iso file and being loading additional installation components from that file. It does this by automatically loading the modules that correspond to the various hardware components detected in the file and then mounts the boot device in order to read it.
You will now be prompted to enter a hostname that will identify your system on the network. This can be anything you want it to be.
I selected root. Click the Continue button.
Set Domain Name
This next window is only if you’re in a group of computers, or a “domain.” This is where you would specify the domain name for that group.
If you’re not in a domain, just leave this field blank and click Continue.
Set Up Users and Passwords
Set the password for accessing your Kali Linux operating system.
Choose at least 8 characters and make sure you remember this password. Click the Continue option.
Configure the Clock
You’ll now have the option of configuring the clock by selecting your corresponding time zone.
Click the Continue option to move to the partitioning process.
This will be a multi-step process. The installer now loads up the Disk Partitioner. I recommend selecting the Guided – Use Entire Disk option since it is the most simplest and common partition method. Choosing this option allocates an entire disk to your Kali Linux VM.
The other options are more advanced partitioning schemes that allow you to set up logical and encrypted partitions. The next window asks you to choose the disk where your Kali Linux VM will be installed. I only have Storage Device A (sda), so that’s the only option I can choose.
This option will erase all of the data on that disk. Click Continue. Guided partitioning should continue, but you’ll need to select a partitioning method. I recommend All files in one partition.
The first method is recommended for new users. The official Kali Linux web site states:
the entire Linux system tree is stored in a single file system, corresponding to the root (“/“) directory. This simple and robust partitioning scheme works perfectly well for personal or single-user systems. Despite the name, two partitions will actually be created: the first will house the complete system, the second the virtual memory (or “swap”).
Click the Continue option. The Installer will show you an overview of your currently configured partitioning and mount points.
If you’re satisfied, select the Finish partitioning and write changes to disk and then click Continue. You’ll then be asked to write changes to disk.
Select Yes and then click the Continue option. The installer will begin formatting the partitions and start installing the system. This will likely take a while.
Copying the Live Image
As I just mentioned, you’ll need to wait as the Installer copies the contents of the live image to the file system. It could take up to 30 minutes.
This process is automatic.
Configure the Package Manager
After the installation, you’ll be asked by the Installer whether or not to configure the Package Manager. In order to be able to install additional software, the Advanced Package Tool (APT) needs to be configured and told where to find Debian packages. The default mirror in Kali Linux is set to http.kali.org. Confirm whether or not you want to use this mirror.
If you don’t use the mirror provided, you won’t be able to install supplementary packages with apt, such as apt-get, unless you configure a package repository in the command-line during the boot process. Click Continue to move forward.
Configure HTTP Proxy
If you’re using a proxy, you can enter that information here. Otherwise, leave it blank.
Click Continue. The Installer will now begin installing the Package Manager.
Installing the GRUB Bootloader
The GRUB boot loader loads the Linux kernel into memory and then executes it.
Select Yes to make the GRUB Boot loader the primary boot loader. Then, click Continue. Now, you must select which device the GRUB boot loader will be installed on.
My only option is dev/sda. Click Continue and the Installer will finish the installation.
Verify System Settings
After the reboot, you should be prompted to enter your username and password that you created during the installation process. Once at the Desktop, open a terminal and execute the apt-get update command. Next execute the hostnamectl and the cat /etc/os-release commands to verify your system settings.
As you can see, the operating system is Kali GNU/Linux Rolling and the version is 2018.3, which is the current version.
Installing VMware Tools
VMware tools offer a better experience to the user overall. There are improved display options, mouse, and video performance that comes packaged with VMware tools. For example, you could fit the VM screen to the size of your monitor screen. To install VMware Tools, there are a couple ways to do this. One way is to open a new terminal and execute the apt install open-vm-tools-desktop command. When asked if you want to continue, indicate yes.
Restart your VM and you should now have VMware Tools installed. That’s it for the installation.