If you have used a Chromebook for a while, you have probably realized that despite ChromeOS is a Linux-based operating system; it has been scraped most of the features you would find on a basic Linux distro. Google did acknowledge this problem and introduced support for Linux and Android apps on Chromebooks. However, if you are an advanced Linux user, you might still feel limited and desire something much more like running your favorite Linux distribution on a Chromebook.
Installing Kali Linux on Chromebook
In this tutorial, we will give you a step-by-step guide on installing Kali Linux on a Chromebook. Kali Linux is a Linux distribution with a focus on penetration testing and security auditing. It is among the most popular operating system in the security field, boasting more than 600 free and open-source penetration testing tools and utilities. So let’s get started right away.
Step 1. Backup Your Data and Powerwash Your Chromebook
Tip: This step is meant to create more space on your drive and allow you to install another operating system alongside ChromeOS. If you have already enabled developer mode and have enough space on Chromebook, skip to Step 3. If you have NOT enabled developer mode, skip to Step Two since that will also erase your local data.
Powerwashing, your Chromebook, will erase any local data you might have stored in your storage drive. Therefore, carrying out a backup is highly recommended before performing a Powerwash. Please check out our detailed guide on How to Powerwash (Reset) a Chromebook if you are new to all this.
However, it’s not a complicated process. First, open the Settings window and click on the Advanced tab on the left to reveal the Reset Settings button.
Click the Reset Setting buttons. On the left screen, you will see the option to powerwash your Chromebook. Click Reset to get started. At this point, the Chromebook will reboot, erasing all the data.
Step 2. Enable Developer Mode
Enabling developer mode on your ChromeOS essentially allows you to carry out more tasks other than the limited ones. For example, you can install Android app APKs, able dual-boot capabilities, and even side-load applications. However, similar to the Powerwash step, this will also erase all the local data on your Chromebook.
The process can be a little complicated, and I highly recommend you read our master guide, which gives you a step-by-step procedure to enable Developer Mode on a Chromebook.
Step 3. Download Crouton
Note: Steps to install crouton have changed! Therefore, if you have installed a Linux distribution before, the steps used in this tutorial might differ since they adhere to the latest crouton installation instructions.
With developer mode enabled, we can now install Kali alongside our ChromeOS. These two operating systems will reside on the same storage drive, and you can switch between the two using the keyboard shortcuts – Ctrl+Alt+Shift+F1 and Ctrl+Alt+Shift+F2. That is made possible by using Crouton (Chromium OS Universal Chroot Environment).
Step 4. Install Kali Linux
After you have successfully downloaded Crouton, we can proceed to install Kali Linux on Chromebook. First, enter the Crosh Terminal using the keyboard combination Ctrl + Alt + T. Type shell to launch the ChromeOS shell.
After starting a Shell, we can now start installing Kali Linux. First, execute the command below to make the crouton package executable.
sudo install -Dt /usr/local/bin -m 755 ~/Downloads/crouton
Launch crouton with the command below. This will show you the Crouton help text.
Execute the command below to install Kali Linux.
sudo crouton -n kali -r kali-rolling -t core,xiwi,xfce,extension
Let’s take a look at the arguments in this command.
- Kali-rolling is the version of Kali Linux that we will be installing. Of course, you can change this depending on your expertise.
- Xfce is the Desktop Environment that we will use for our Kali Linux installation. It is considered one of the light-weight Desktop Environments available.
Tip: If an error occurs (e.g., internet/power issues) and the download doesn’t complete successfully. You can continue by adding the -u (update) parameter at the end, as shown below.
sudo crouton -n kali -r kali-rolling -t core,xiwi,xfce,extension -u
Kali Linux is a huge package, and the download process might take quite some time, depending on your internet speed. After a while, you will see the prompt to set up a new Unix username and password. Use anything for the username but not root.
When done, you will be presented with the Chronos shell prompt. Let’s switch to kali with the command below.
sudo enter-chroot -n kali
Next, we will install the data bus for the X Window System with the command below.
sudo apt install dbus-x11
We can now proceed to launch Kali Linux. Execute the command below.
After a few seconds, a window will open to reveal the beautiful Kali Linux XFCE desktop.
The Chromebook version of Kali Linux doesn’t come with most packages, and you will have to install them manually from the command line. However, that shouldn’t be hard since most of the tools are free and open-source.
That’s all! We have successfully installed Kali Linux on our Chromebook. Did you face errors executing any of the commands above? Please feel free to reach out in the comments section.