Kali Linux ISO: Build a custom KDE image

Kali Linux is the latest incarnation of BackTrack Linux, a distribution designed for penetration testing and security professionals. The last edition of BackTrack was BackTrack 5 R3, with GNOME 2 and KDE installation images for 32- and 64-bit architectures made available for download. Released Kali Linux ISO image is for the GNOME 3 desktop, with a customized GNOME Shell.

However, Kali Linux’s build system makes it relatively easy to roll your own (custom) installation image using other well-known desktop environments, like KDE, MATE, LXDE, and Xfce. This article shows how to build a custom installation image built around KDE.

NOTE: If you are still using BackTrack, you might want to consider switching to Kali Linux. It’s based on Debian and offers more features than its predecessor.

A custom Kali Linux image can be built from an existing installation of Kali Linux, or form any other Linux distribution, The easiest route is to download Kali Linux 1.0 and install it in a virtual environment. From it, you can then build a custom image with your choice of desktop environment.

The instruction for building a custom Kali Linux ISO image is pretty simple. I chose to build mine using a combination of the default setting in the build environment and the installation instructions. The result is a 2.2 GB installation image of Kali Linux KDE.

There’s nothing special to it, but if you want to build one, these are the steps I took.

1. Install Kali Linux 1.0 in a virtual environment. You may download an installation image from here.

2. Set up the build environment. To prepare the build environment, the official documentation called for the installation of four packages. However, I found that two of those packages (git and kali-archive-keyring) were already installed on a new installation of Kali Linux 1.0, so I only needed to install the other two, which are cdebootstrap and kali-archive-keyring.

Therefore to prepare the build environment, issue the following commands:

I. Install required packages with this command: apt-get install cdebootstrap kali-archive-keyring.

II. Clone the build environment with: git clone git://git.kali.org/live-build-config.git.

III. The build environment is in a directory called live-build-config. The next step is to change (cd) into that directory and start messing with it. So type this command: cd live-build-config.

IV. Then run this command: lb build. The system will respond with an error message, and will output a command for you to run that will take care of the cause of the error. The command it will output is: ln -sf wheezy /usr/share/live/build/data/debian-cd/kali.

This image shows the commands as I used them in my test installation.
Kali Linux ISO

This one shows the output of the lb build command without the error message.
Kali Linux ISO

3. Configuring the Kali ISO Build In the official documentation, this step is optional, but this is where you have to choose the desktop environment you wish to use for the build. The file to modify is kali.list.chroot in the config/package-lists directory. So change to that directory with: cd config/package-lists and open the file with; nano -w kali.list.chroot.

This is section of the file that you have to modify to use the desktop environment that you prefer. To use KDE, just uncomment everything, but the KDE line. Note that the default in this file is slightly different from what you’ll find in the official documentation.
Kali Linux ISO

This is the same file with the KDE lines uncommented. The two lines shown here worked just fine for me.
Kali Linux ISO

4. Build the ISO After modifying the file, type: lb config --architecture i386. Follow that with: lb build. That last command will take more than a few hours to build, so take a break or a nap. When it’s completed, you should see an ISO file of about 2.2 GB. That’s your custom Kali Linux ISO KDE image. You may know burn it to a DVD or transfer it to a USB key or flash drive.
Kali Linux ISO

This image shows a test installation of Kali Linux ISO KDE with the classic menu.
Kali Linux ISO KDE

And this shows it with the Kickoff menu. Corrections, suggestions and requests are welcome.
Kali Linux ISO with Kickoff

Related Posts

Your choice: Cinnamon or MATE I get a lot of queries regarding the difference(s) between the MATE and Cinnamon desktop environments. And of course such queries tend to come from th...
Migrating from Kali Linux 2 to Kali Linux 2016.1 The first edition of Kali Linux Rolling, Kali 2016.1, was released more than a week ago. It marks the end of Kali Linux 2 and the beginning of a new r...
Manual disk partitioning guide for Linux Mint Debian Edition Linux Mint Debian Edition, or LMDE, is the edition of Linux Mint based on Debian Testing. The latest release was made available for download on Decemb...
Dual-boot Linux Mint 17.1, Windows 7 on a PC with UEFI firmware After Linux Mint 17 was released back in mid-2014, I published How to dual-boot Linux Mint 17 and Windows 8 on a PC with UEFI firmware. Now that Linux...
How to dual-boot BackTrack 5 R2 and Ubuntu 12.04 BackTrack Linux is now known as Kali Linux. You may read all Kali Linux articles and tutorial at http://linuxbsdos.com/category/kali-linux. Yet a...
GNOME Software preview on Fedora 20 alpha GNOME Software is one of the more exciting features that I'm looking forward to in the next release of Fedora. This is a brand new project, but the pa...

We Recommend These Vendors and Free Offers

ContainerizeThis 2016 is a free, 2-day conference for all things containers and big data. Featured, will be presentations and free, hands-on workshops. Learn more at ContainerizeThis.com

Launch an SSD VPS in Europe, USA, Asia & Australia on Vultr's KVM-based Cloud platform starting at $5:00/month (15 GB SSD, 768 MB of RAM).

Deploy an SSD Cloud server in 55 seconds on DigitalOcean. Built for developers and starting at $5:00/month (20 GB SSD, 512 MB of RAM).

Want to become an expert ethical hacker and penetration tester? Request your free video training course of Online Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking

Whether you're new to Linux or are a Linux guru, you can learn a lot more about the Linux kernel by requesting your free ebook of Linux Kernel In A Nutshell.


5 Comments

  1. you used lb build where you should have used lb config

  2. Can we set it up to run windows tools inside of wine?

  3. I helped make a Kali Linux Family Tree – which shows how it came into being – i.e. from Knoppix to WHoppix to WHAX to BackTrack to Kali Linux

    I hope I got it right! Ill be corrected if I am wrong

    http://www.concise-courses.com/security/kali-linux-review-and-history/

    Thought I’d share that

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*