Install Kali Linux on Virtualbox in 3 Easy Steps

How To Install Kali Linux On VirtualBox

How to install Kali Linux on Virtualbox? In this tutorial, we’ll walk you through the easiest way in which you can install Kali Linux on your VirtualBox. Ready to roll? Let’s go!

What is Kali Linux and Why Do People Use It?

Kali Linux is one of the best Linux distributions created for penetration testers. All the tools that a network security tester or a hacker might ever need, are pre-installed and set-up perfectly in this distribution making things really easy. This is not just limited to the software, even the hardware is perfectly integrated by using the right drivers to improve hardware functionality.

What’s VirtualBox and Where Can I Get it?

VirtualBox is a virtualization software used to test different operating systems on simulated hardware. It allows you to run multiple operating systems independently without affecting your primary OS.

Difficult to understand? It really isn’t! Your operating system makes use of the physical hardware that’s allocated to it when the system is booted. VirtualBox takes a part of that hardware from the Operating system and allocates it to a VirtualMachine. The OS that’s installed inside a virtual machine works and runs exactly as it would run on regular hardware.

Basic terminology to note:

  • Host Machine/System – The physical hardware that you’re using
  • Guest Machine/System – The hardware that you allocate to your Virtual Machine through Virtualbox settings
  • Host OS – The operating system that’s installed on your physical computer
  • Guest OS – The operating system that you will install within a Virtual Machine

You can download VirtualBox from the official website (link to the website). The installation is very straightforward and you should have no difficulty in getting Virtualbox set up.

How To Install Kali Linux on VirtualBox?

If you’re installing Kali Linux on your computer as a secondary OS, you can go about installing it the same way you’d do for any other operating system. Download the ISO file from the official website (link to website), burn it to a USB or a CD, and boot from it.

We can follow similar steps while installing Kali Linux on Virtualbox too. But because of the popularity of virtual machines, there’s an option to directly load up a pre-configured Kali system on Virtualbox! So without wasting more time, let’s download the VirtualBox image and boot it up.

Install Kali Linux on VirtualBox Using the VirtualBox Image

This is the simplest way to go about installing Kali on Virtualbox. The virtual machine image files can be found right on the official website.

1. Download Kali Linux VirtualBox Image

Visit the Kali Linux official website and go to the download page.

Kali Linux Virtualbox Image download to install Kali Linux on VirtualBox
Kali Linux Download

On the downloads page, you can scroll down to find Kali Linux images for VMware and Virtualbox. For this tutorial, we’ll download the 64-bit Virtual Box image.

Virtualbox Kali Image Download
Virtualbox Kali Image Download

2. Import the OVA File to Install Kali Linux on VirtualBox

Once downloaded, you’ll have a .ova file which contains the complete data for the operating system to boot! Yes, it’s all set up and ready to start. All you need to do is import the “appliance” to install Kali Linux on Virtualbox.

To import the ova file:

  • Open VirtualBox
  • Click on the File menu
  • Select Import Appliance…
Import Appliance Kali Linux On Virtualbox
Import Appliance Kali Linux On Virtualbox

A new window will pop up as shown in the below screenshot where you need to select the ova file.

Select Appliance Virtualbox
Select Appliance Virtualbox

I’ve selected the kali-linux-2020.1 VirtualBox file and then click “Next”. The immediate next screen will display the default settings for the virtual machine. You can choose to go with the defaults or edit them based on your requirements.

When you click on the import button, you’ll see a “Software License Agreement” pop-up like the one in the screenshot below. Simply agree and move ahead.

Import Appliance Import Screen
Import Appliance Import Screen

Once you’ve agreed to the terms and conditions, the process to install Kali Linux on VirtualBox will begin. You’ll see the importing progress bar like the one below. This can take several minutes depending on the speed of your host system.

Importing Kali Linux On Virtualbox
Importing Kali Linux On Virtualbox

3. Boot Kali Linux on VirtualBox

The importing will take some time depending on the host system hardware that you have. For me, it took around 15 minutes. Once that’s done, you’ll see the operating system added to the list of Virtual Machines as shown in the screenshot below.

Kali Linux Installed On Vbox
Kali Linux Installed On Vbox

Select the operating system, and click on the start button on the top. This will boot the Virtual machine right away and will take you to the login screen like below:

Kali Linux Installation Complete
Kali Linux Installation Complete

The username and password are both kali. Once you’re logged in, you can change the password using the passwd command in Linux.

That’s it! If you’ve read through till here, you should know how to install Kali Linux on Virtualbox. If you followed along, you will also have the Kali Linux system installed on your VirtualBox.

Here’s what the default setup looks like:

Kali Set Up Complete
Kali Set Up Complete

The best part is since the image comes pre-configured, you don’t even have to set up VirtualBox Guest Additions on it. Everything is already set up and you can start working right away!

Who Should Install Kali Linux on VirtualBox?

This is a choice that you’ll have to make based on the requirements that you have from the installed operating system. There are a few pros and cons when you install Kali Linux on Virtualbox. Let’s discuss these pros and cons below and you can decide if it’s something that you should consider for yourself instead of installing Kali as a secondary OS.

Pros of installing Kali Linux on VirtualBox

  • Run multiple OS without affecting the main
  • Play around with the OS without worrying about losing important data
  • Manage resources as required
  • VirtualBox installed OS’ are portable
  • Create snapshots and roll-back changes with a single click
  • Perfect for testing Operating systems

Cons of installing Kali Linux on VirtualBox

  • Noticeably slower performance
  • Limited support for GPU acceleration
  • USB wifi adaptors work best when the OS is natively installed
  • Due to the ease of rolling back changes, you’d not learn to troubleshoot
  • An extra layer of abstraction between the physical hardware, operating system, and the guest OS


So we’re done with setting up and installing Kali Linux 2020 on VirtualBox! The OS is made to be very fast and efficient even for Virtualbox and you’ll notice that as soon as you’re done installing it.

You can obviously download and install Kali using the Kali Linux ISO file if you want to learn the complete setup process from scratch. That entire process is very straightforward too and the Kali Linux installer does most of the work for you. But for the purpose of getting an up and running Kali Linux installed on VirtualBox, the Vbox image is the perfect way to go.

We hope this tutorial proved useful to you. Make sure you bookmark our website for more awesome tutorials like these in the future!