Fresh Coffee…I Mean Kali!


You’ve never done this before and have no idea what a virtual machine is or what this Kali creature is that I’m speaking of? Well let’s fix this problem and walk through it together, because for me personally, I like to start fresh with each shiny new season so that I know I’m up to date and things are running smoothly. A few key terms to get familiar with that you’ll see a lot of are virtual machine (vm) which is just a smarter way to run an operating system to test things without risking your computer. Kali is a Linux operating system that has some built in tools that will help you get through some of the challenges a little more smoothly, you’ll find more articles on this blog with details on some of these tools.

When a new season of National Cyber League (NCL) Capture-the-Flag (CTF) begins, I like to start off with fresh installs of VirtualBox, a virtual machine player software, and the latest Kali Linux. If I begin this process one week prior to the Gym opening, it gives me time to ensure that all the tools that I need are ready to go when that counter hits 0 and those gates open for competition.

Head on over to the VirtualBox website and download the appropriate version for your machine, I’m on Windows, so I choose the Windows host option.

While I’m here, I also like to go ahead and grab the extension pack that’s a little further down on the same page, this is mostly because I’m a completest. The extension pack provides some extra functionality for example: USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, as well as disk encryption and remote desktop. Side note: I do not apologize for all the late-night achievement hunting in World of Warcraft because of this compulsion to finish stuff either.

Got it all installed? Great! Let’s grab a fresh copy of Kali so that we have the tools needed for some of those challenges then. Browse on over to Kali and scroll down the page a little. I personally install the full 64-bit version and you will notice you can download it directly by clicking the image name on the left column or via torrent in the 2nd column. I mention this because not long ago I was helping someone install Kali into a virtual machine and there was some confusion as she didn’t know the first column was a direct link, so she panicked because she also didn’t know what to do with torrent files. This is your choice on how you decide to download it, if you prefer torrent, go for it.

How do I know if I need 64-bit or 32-bit? Glad you asked! If you aren’t sure if your computer or laptop is 64-bit or 32-bit, navigate to “Settings” ⭢ “System” ⭢ “About”. Under “Device Specifications,” there is a line that says “System Type” which will tell you the version of Windows that you’re running, either an x32- or x64-based processor. This is important because you don’t want to waste your time downloading one to find out later it was one that can’t run on your computer, when you could have spent that time checking out the latest expansion on that role playing game that was just released. If you absolutely are not sure, x32 will work on an x64-based processor, but the reverse will not.

Now it’s time to fire up VirtualBox and tell it to create a new machine by clicking the icon that says “New” and looks like a blue spikey blob that I have decided to name George because I like the name, okay? Give it a name on the first screen. I typically leave the machine folder to default for simplicity, set the type to Linux (since that’s what it is), then scroll to the bottom on the “Type” drop down and choose “Other Linux 64” if you downloaded the 64-bit or “Other Linux 32” if you chose the 32-bit version.

All good? Click “Next” at the bottom, and here is where you will tell it how much memory to give your VM. Since we know the minimum for Kali is 2 GB, make sure we give it at least that much but in MB, so 2048 MB. My host machine is Windows 10 with 12 GB of RAM, so I usually give my VM 4 GB because during the CTF that’s the only client machine I run at one time, and I like the way Gnome desktop looks (no, not the one in the garden).

Okay, back on task. Click the next button at the bottom and choose “Create a Virtual Disk Now” and then click “Create” at the bottom. On the next screen we will choose “VDI” and click “Next”. Leave it at “Dynamically allocated” for simplicity, then click create and the Kali VM will be listed on the left, which only leaves clicking on it to fire it up by clicking that green arrow that says “Start”!

On a final note, after you start your shiny new Kali machine, please open a command prompt and Update, Upgrade, & Dist-Upgrade. (If you don’t know what this means, don’t panic. I will explain below)

Linux software is kept in what is called repositories, or repos for short, and it’s then indexed. Running these commands requires root privileges so we have to tell it we need to run in super user mode by using the command “sudo”. Open up a command prompt on your newly installed best friend and type the following commands to make sure everything is up to date:

Okay, remember how we said Linux software is indexed in a repo? The first command we will want to run will tell it to update the index on our computer to match the index in the repository.

sudo apt-get update

This next one will tell it to check to make sure our computer is up to date, and if it isn’t our laptop will ask for anything it needs to get up to date with the latest versions (but it won’t remove packages that aren’t needed anymore so keep reading cupcake).

sudo apt-get upgrade

Ye Ole’ dist-upgrade is our last step in this blog. This last one tells our computer to give us everything we need to be current and, hey, if I don’t need that package from a piece of software that I deleted a while back it’s going to take it out and put the one that is needed. Isn’t that nice of Linux?

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

There you have it folks, it’s like Windows update on steroids because you have way more control! And since I like being in control, guess what I use for NCL Competitions? Yup, you’re definitely a smart cookie, Kali! 😉

For another view on this, mosey on over to John “Mako” McGill’s awesome article “Building Your Virtual Playground“!

4 thoughts on “Fresh Coffee…I Mean Kali!

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