9 Best Kali Linux alternatives for hacking and pen testing

Are you looking for the best Kali Linux distribution alternatives? To learn ethical hacking and performing penetration testing, here is a list of them… 

When it comes to cybersecurity, you quickly might mess things up if you are going for an operating system that isn’t secure enough. So I am doing the hard work slightly easy for you of finding the top 10 alternatives of Kali Linux that you should definitely try out if you are bored with Kali Linux and are looking for an alternative for any other reason.

Kali Linux is one of the best Linux distros that comes with all essential tools for Hacking and Penetration Testing. It is so popular that even in TV series like ROBOT you have seen numerous times. But wait, it is not the only one in the world of open-source operating systems.

Yes, there are a couple of well-known Linux distros that are very good replacement options for Kali Linux to learn ethical hacking. And here we are going to list some good substitutes to use instead of Kali.

Actually, the thing which makes this Linux distro unique is the security and numbers of pre-installed tools it comes with. However, being a Debian based system, you can even use that software on Ubuntu or any other similar OS. Well, professionals and even beginners don’t want to spend their time on that. which is the reason why they are using a full packed operating system for penetration testing like Kali or parrot OS.

Also with Kali 2.0 version, the users now have the option while installing to select the Desktop environment of their preference, such as between XFCE and Gnome.

Top Kali Linux Distro alternatives

Here are the best Linux distros to learn hacking and penetration testing that can be used on Virtual platforms such as Virtual and VMware Player along with on your Desktop or PC systems. They all are available in the bootable ISO format and to download them use the link given after each replacement option here.

Furthermore, we can use these security OS including Kali Linux in the Live environment that omits the necessity of installation.

Parrot Security OS Linux

Parrot Security OS is the best alternative Linux distro to Kali Linux. It is also an open-source operating system that provides a complete all-in-one environment for penetration testing, privacy, digital forensics, reverse engineering, and software development.

Parrot Security OS is based on popular mainstream Debian Linux with lots of pre-installed tools for penetration testing. In addition to penetration testing, this system is also capable of digital forensics, as well as out of the box for Tor and I2P anonymous tools, Anonsurf, a RAM memory cleaner, BleachBit, NoScript, and Internet Explorer profile manager. Encryption tools to ensure that the data you download is also included, you can use veracrypt, LUKS, GnuPG, and encryption system installation. We can install it on VirtualBox, VMWare Workstation, and other Virtualization platforms easily including bare metal PC or server hardware.

In terms of desktop environments, it offers options for MATE, XFCE, and KDE Plasma. Even two are dived further in two formats one is  Parrot OS Home without any security or pen-testing tools, basically meant for everyday use as a desktop Linux. Whereas those are in testing, they can download the ISO file of another version known as ParrotOS Security. Pre-built OVA image to use on Virtual Machines such as Virtual Box, Hyper-V, and VMware Workstations is also available.

Parrot Security is actually very simple to use. It is not much different from Kali Linux. There are many tools that are all the same. If you have a basic knowledge of hacking, or if you have ever used Kali Linux, there would not be any problem in operating and penetration testing with the Parrot Linux system.

As compared to Kali Linux, Parrato Linux is somewhat beginner-friendly especially with MATE Desktop, which is worth trying. Well, it can be used on Docker containers.


System requirement of Parrot OS

Parrot Home edition: Dual-core x86_64 Processor, 2 GB of RAM DDR2, and 20 GB of Hard drive space.
Parrot Security edition: Dual-core x86_64 Processor, 2 GB of RAM DDR3, and 40 GB of Hard drive space.
Parrot Netinstall edition: x86 Processor, 512 MB of RAM DDR2, and 4 GB of Hard drive space.
Recommended hardware: Quad-core x86_64 Processor, 8 GB of RAM DDR3, and 128 GB SSD.

BlackArch as Alternative

Another Linux distro alternative to Kali Linux is BlackArch which is based on Arch; and more or less the same like. It features more than 2300 tools to perform ethical hacking and penetration testing. It Desktop UI is also very cool.

BlackArch Linux is available to download into versions one is the installation version and the Live version (Live hacking OS without installing).

BlackArch min

Since BlackArch Linux is also a penetration testing system like Kali, many of the tools available in it are not very different from other penetration testing systems. For example, the most commonly used Nmap, Sqlmap, Metasploit Framework, and other software are available. If you are about to install the BlackArch then you should know its default Username: root and Password: blackarch.


BackBox Linux alternative

As Kali Linux alternative, the Backbox Linux is also based on Ubuntu distribution and was developed for network penetration testing and security assessment. Designed to be fast and easy to use. It provides a minimalist but complete desktop environment thanks to its own software repository, which is always synchronized to the latest version, the most commonly used and ethically known hacking tool.

BackBox Linux min

It has a comprehensive security solution that provides tools for pen-testing, incident response, computer forensics, and intelligence gathering. The latest release of BackBox Linux includes the latest software solutions and pen-testing vulnerability analysis/evaluation.

BlackBox website

Minimum system requirements of BackBox:

32-bit or 64-bit processor
512 MB of system memory (RAM)
4.4 GB of disk space for installation
Graphics card capable of 800 x 600 resolution
DVD-ROM drive or USB port

CAINE Linux distro

This Kali Linux alternative is also based on the Ubuntu GNU / Linux, it is a Live hacking Linux distro, which means you can simply run it in a Live environment using a USB drive or CD/DVD disc. From the start of running the release, it was created as a security researcher at the International Center (CRIS).

CAINE (Computer Aided Survey Environment) forensic framework includes a set of tools that are integrated into a user-friendly environment. It introduces novel features. It is designed to bridge the interoperability gap between different forensic tools and provides a consistent graphical user interface to guide digital surveys during the acquisition and analysis of electronic evidence, as well as a semi-automated process for document and report writing. Tools for managing database, memory, network, and everything else is packed into the distribution.

CAINE Linux distro min


CAINE Linux system requirements

  • 2 GHz dual-core processor or better and 2 GB RAM

DEFT Linux distro

DEFT (Digital Evidence and Forensics Toolbox) is a customized Xubuntu self-starting Linux CD distribution. It’s an easy-to-use system that includes the best hardware detection and some of the best open-source applications for emergency response and computer forensics.

The minimum requirements for DEFT Zero is an X86 CPU 200Mhz and 128 MB RAM.


Fedora Security Spin

Fedora Security Spin is also a great operating system for training purposes. Just like most other popular Linux Kali distributions alternatives, Fedora Security Spin is also backed by a large and enthusiastic community of developers and security researchers… It comes with a number of useful items on the plate for security auditing, penetration testing, and also for system rescue purposes.



Pentoo Linux alternative

Pentoo Linux is a Linux distribution based on Gentoo Linux. Pentoo can be used as a Live CD or Live USB image, and the distribution is intended for penetration testing. The newly released distribution is available for both 32 -bit and 64 -bit architectures.

It features useful penetration testing tools, built on enhanced Linux, the kernel hardens additional patches; When the hard drive is installed, full disk encryption is available, a default user interface is XFCE; the package manager is ‘Portage ‘ and Use the update ” pop “. The common tools included are Leafpad, Terminal, Batch rename; Gedit, development tools: Cmake, QT Designer, sandbox, etc. Pdf viewer, chromium, Zenmap; Wicd Network Manager, Unetbootin, Virtual machine manager, etc.

Pentoo Linux min

Pentoo Website 

Minimal CD: CPU i486, 256 MB RAM

For LiveDVD: i686 or later and  512 MB RAM
Disk space 2.5 GB (excluding swap space)
Swap space At least 256 MB

Cyborg Hawk Linux distro alternative (not active anymore)

Cyborg Hawk is another one of the great Linux distribution alternatives for Kali Linux for cybersecurity experts, and it comes with more than 750 penetration testing tools, besides a number of other tools for exploitation, stress test, forensics, mobile and wireless security, reverse engineering and everything else. It is also based on Ubuntu.

Bugtraq Linux distribution- Live DVD

Bugtraq is a user-friendly Kali Linux alternative and community-driven Linux distribution for computer forensics, ethical hacking, and other complex cyber-security Linux Distro. It is also available for Android as an app called Bugtroid Penetration Free. Default Username: bugtraq Password: 123456

Note: This one is also inactive

Bugtraq minimum requirements

  •  1GHz x86 processor, 512 MB RAM, and 15 GB of disk space for installation.


Other Alternatives:

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