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Foreword - Kali Linux Revealed

The sixteen high-end laptops ordered for your pentesting team just arrived, and you have been tasked to set them up—for tomorrow's offsite engagement. You install Kali and boot up one of the laptops only to find that it is barely usable. Despite Kali's cutting-edge kernel, the network cards and mouse aren't working, and the hefty NVIDIA graphics card and GPU are staring at you blankly, because they lack properly installed drivers. You sigh.

In Kali Live mode, you quickly type lspci into a console, then squint. You scroll through the hardware listing: "PCI bridge, USB controller, SATA controller. Aha! Ethernet and Network controllers." A quick Google search for their respective model numbers, cross referenced with the Kali kernel version, reveals that these cutting-edge drivers haven't reached the mainline kernel yet.

But all is not lost. A plan is slowly formulating in your head, and you thank the heavens for the Kali Linux Revealed book that you picked up a couple of weeks ago. You could use the Kali Live-Build system to create a custom Kali ISO, which would have the needed drivers baked into the installation media. In addition, you could include the NVIDIA graphics drivers as well as the CUDA libraries needed to get that beast of a GPU to talk nicely to hashcat, and have it purr while cracking password hashes at blistering speeds. Heck, you could even throw in a custom wallpaper with a Microsoft Logo on it, to taunt your team at work.

Since the hardware profiles for your installations are identical, you add a preseeded boot option to the ISO, so that your team can boot off a USB stick and have Kali installed with no user interaction—the installation takes care of itself, full disk encryption and all.

Perfect! You can now generate an updated version of Kali on demand, specifically designed and optimized for your hardware. You saved the day. Mission complete!

With the deluge of hardware hitting the market, this scenario is becoming more common for those of us who venture away from mainstream operating systems, in search of something leaner, meaner, or more suitable to our work and style.

This is especially applicable to those attracted to the security field, whether it be an alluring hobby, fascination, or line of work. As newcomers, they often find themselves stumped by the environment or the operating system. For many newcomers Kali is their first introduction to Linux.

We recognized this shift in our user base a couple of years back, and figured that we could help our community by creating a structured, introductory book that would guide users into the world of security, while giving them all the Linux sophistication they would need to get started. And so, the Kali book was born—now available free over the Internet for the benefit of anyone interested in entering the field of security through Kali Linux.

As the book started taking shape, however, we quickly realized that there was untapped potential. This would be a great opportunity to go further than an introductory Kali Linux book and explore some of the more interesting and little-known features. Hence, the name of the book: Kali Linux Revealed.

By the end, we were chuffed with the result. The book answered all our requirements and I'm proud to say it exceeded our expectations. We came to the realization that we had inadvertently enlarged the book's potential user base. It was no longer intended only for newcomers to the security field, but also included great information for experienced penetration testers who needed to improve and polish their control of Kali Linux—allowing them to unlock the full potential of our distribution. Whether they were fielding a single machine or thousands across an enterprise, making minor configuration changes or completely customizing down to the kernel level, building their own repositories, touching the surface or delving deep into the amazing Debian package management system, Kali Linux Revealed provides the roadmap.

With your map in hand, on behalf of myself and the entire Kali Linux team, I wish you an exciting, fun, fruitful and "revealing" journey!

Mati Aharoni, February 2017