ARM Installations

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4.4. ARM Installations

Kali Linux runs on a wide variety of ARM-based devices (laptops, embedded computers, and developer boards, for example) but you cannot use the traditional Kali installer on these devices since they often have specific requirements in terms of kernel or boot loader configuration.

To make those devices more accessible to Kali users, Offensive Security developed scripts to build disk images that are ready for use with various ARM devices. They provide these images pre-generated, ready to download on their website:

Since these images are available, your task of installing Kali on an ARM device is greatly simplified. Here are the basic steps:

  • Download the image for your ARM device and ensure that the checksum matches the one provided on the website (see Section 2.1.3, "Verifying Integrity and Authenticity" for explanations on how to do that). Note that the images are usually xz-compressed; make sure to uncompress them with unxz.
  • Depending on the storage expansion slot available on your specific ARM device, acquire an SD card, micro SD card, or embedded multi-media controller (eMMC) module that has a capacity of at least 8 GB.
  • Copy the downloaded image to the storage device with dd. This is similar to the process of copying an ISO image onto a USB key (see Section 2.1.4, "Copying the Image on a DVD-ROM or USB Key").
    # dd if=kali-image.img of=/dev/something bs=512k
  • Plug the SD-card/eMMC into your ARM device.
  • Boot your ARM device and log into it (user "kali", password "kali"). If you don't have a screen connected, then you will have to discover the IP address that has been assigned via DHCP and connect to that address over SSH. Some DHCP servers have tools or web interfaces to show the current leases. If you don't have this as an option, use a sniffer to look for DHCP lease traffic, or either a ICMP/ARP scan of the local network.
  • Change the default user password and generate new SSH host keys, especially if the device will be permanently running on a public network! These steps are relatively straightforward, see Generating New SSH Host Keys.
  • Enjoy your new ARM device running Kali Linux!

Special Cases and More Detailed Documentation

These instructions are generic and while they work for most devices, there are always exceptions. For example, Chromebooks require developer mode and other devices require a special keypress in order to boot from external media.

Since ARM devices are added relatively frequently and their specifications are so dynamic, we won't cover specific installation instructions for various ARM devices here. Instead, refer to the dedicated "Kali on ARM" section of the Kali documentation website for information about each ARM device supported by Offensive Security: