Operating system security

Why You Might Want to Upgrade to Kali Linux 2.0 – or Not

November 9, 2015 by Wolf Halton

I spent the last two weeks making a trial of Kali Linux 2.0, and for a command-line person, there just isn’t that much reason to upgrade from Kali 1.1 to Kali 2.0. The main three differences are:

  • The rolling release function, which lets you continually upgrade over the wire, rather than having to do clean installs.
  • The beautiful Gnome 3 GUI Desktop.
  • The End of Life notice for Kali 1.x

Rocking the Rolling Releases!

If you are a person who installs Kali to the desktop, to the laptop, or to a server; rolling releases make your life much easier. Your tools are always based on the newest release, and your Linux kernel will be as well. The problem with the punctuated evolution of operating systems is that the applications age and the OS lacks the newest security advances. This is well illustrated by the Windows model of distribution update, and is motivated by cost control, and maximization of profit.

A software company that can control the work done on an OS limits its costs to create the distribution. Presumably both rolling and punctuated distribution models have to continue creating security updates as bugs and vulnerabilities are found, so that cost is equivalent. Having a basic project completion for the OS lets the costs (fixed and essentially complete at the point of release) become a lower and lower percentage of the total revenue from the project. Ask Microsoft or Oracle why they use punctuated distribution, and they are probably going to say something like that.

A rolling release distribution has options that a punctuated release doesn’t get. Instead of spending money fixing bugs with the old vulnerable version of a component, why not just push in the newer version that the upstream software producer has completed? This means less of the OS distributor’s time is spent on fixing bugs in old software, and puts more emphasis on speedy upgrades.

Installations are always customized to some degree. Every Kali end user has their own favorite workflow and environment, so having a rolling release lets those customizations be continuous between upgrades. No more hours spent recreating your environment every time there is a point upgrade on the operating system. If you follow the path of making an ISO of your customizations to Kali 2.x, you may never have to redo anything again, even if you change machines or run a cluster of Kali password crackers on virtual machines.

If what you do is install a live disk into a compromised machine to gather eForensics information, then you are not going to see a huge benefit from using Kali 2.0, at least not at first, since the versions of the tools in 1.1 and 2.0 are not all that far apart. I make new live disks every 6 months or so, from the newest update of Kali 1.1, and can easily see doing the same thing with the updates of Kali 2.x. This is not likely to be a change in my live-disk usage.

Gnome 3 the Beautiful

The Gnome 3 desktop environment is exquisitely styled and very easy to understand. The most often used applications can be docked to the sidebar, and it seems to run faster than the Ubuntu Unity Desktop that resembles it.

For people who generally reside in a Windows environment, Gnome 3 is relatively easy to understand. Some of us miss the old applications menu, but this can be grafted back in with installing the Mate Desktop. People who work primarily from live disks will get used to the new GUI as they did the darker Kali 1.x look.

Since most of the tools we use on Kali are command line tools, there really aren’t all that many benefits for upgrading to Kali 2.0 as seen from the inside of the terminal window.

Rumours of The Death of Kali Moto (1.x) Are Not Exaggerated

As of October 15, 2015, the repositories for Kali Moto are removed to a secondary location, and are not on the main downloads page. This means updates are basically finished for Kali 1.x, and your current installations of Kali 1.x will no longer be supported. To read it from the horse’s mouth go to Kali News. https://www.kali.org/news/kali-moto-eol/


I would suggest updating to Kali 2.0. I know that it seems sudden, but they have moved quickly to phase out version 1.x. Why upgrade to Kali 2.0?

  • Kali 1.1 has passed end of life
  • Kali virtual images for vmware and virtualbox of Kali 1.1 are still available, the last time I checked, but they are probably going to be purged soon, or are already purged.
  • If your hardware is at the end of its useable life, you might as well install Kali 2.0 on your new hardware.

This article was originally published at eForensics Magazine.

Posted: November 9, 2015
Wolf Halton
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Wolf Halton is an Authority on Computer and Internet Security, an Amazon Best-Selling Author on Computer Security, and the CEO of Atlanta Cloud Technology. He specializes in: Business Continuity, Security Engineering, Open-Source Consulting, Marketing Automation, Virtualization and Data-Center Restructuring, Network Architecture, and Linux Administration. To contact the author, email wolf@atlantacloudtech.com You can also visit the author’s website here: wolfhalton.info