Kali Linux

Kali Linux Vs. Ubuntu

Ubuntu and Kali Linux are popular operating systems. Ubuntu is a general purpose distribution that is widely used by researchers and students, while Kali Linux is popular in the penetration testing world. We will go through the differences between both the operating systems along with their features, advantages, and disadvantages.

Kali Linux

Kali Linux (previously BackTrack Linux) is an open-source Linux system that is based on Debian and designed for sophisticated penetration security auditing and testing. Kali Linux includes hundreds of tools for diverse ethical hacking activities such as penetration testing, research, information security, forensics, etc. Kali Linux is a multi-platform distribution that is both free and open source for security experts and enthusiasts.

On March 13, 2013, Kali Linux was published as a full, top-to-bottom rebuild of BackTrack Linux, following strictly Debian development rules. Offensive Security, a major information security training firm, created, sponsored, and maintains Kali Linux.

Popular Tools Included in Kali Linux

WPScan, Zenmap, Hydra, Foremost, Volatility, VulnHub, Reverse engineering toolkit, Metasploit framework, Maltego, Nessus, Burp Suite, etc.

What We Can Do with Kali Linux

There are some useful and interesting operations that we can do using Kali Linux. If you are an ethical hacker or interested in ethical hacking, you will be finding the below section pretty interesting. Let’s discuss a few of the tools and their tasks:

A key component of Kali Linux, this tool is used to get information regarding security vulnerabilities. You can also use it for post-exploitation reasons.

THC Hydra
It is Password cracking software for cracking the password of a remote host or a server.

A graphical representation of Metasploit for attacking a server.

The Firewall Detection Utility

The Domain Information Digging tools count the number of server users.

A tool for launching Denial of Service (DoS) and DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.

A web crawler (Spidering)

A penetration testing tool is used to put Local File or Remote File Inclusion.

A tool for gathering information about distant hosts.

Abbreviation for Web Application Attack and Audit Framework, which is used to detect weaknesses in a website.

NMap and Netcat
These programs are used to discover open network ports.

Nikto Scanner
This tool is used to identify serious vulnerabilities in a website.

A tool for detecting weaknesses in a WordPress website.

Information is gathered by gathering inputs from a penetration tester.

Provides comprehensive information about a website.

Nslookup & Dig
A reconnaissance tool that provides precise information about a web server.

A packet analyzer is used to detect activities in a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), Internet Protocol (IP), IGRP, ICMP, and other protocols.

Intrusion Detection System

Features of Kali Linux

Privacy and Security
Kali Linux ensures that the users can operate the various tasks securely and privately in their own space. They cannot access the private data of other users without permission. This Kali Linux feature enables multiple people to work on the same machine. Kali Linux does not require any antivirus software to protect against virus attacks.

Secure Environment
The Kali Linux team is made up of a small number of people who contribute packages and communicate with the repository, all while utilizing several secure protocols.

Penetration Testing Tools
As discussed earlier, Kali Linux has a large number of tools that can be used for ethical hacking and penetration testing purposes.

Multiple Desktop Environment
Kali Linux uses the XFCE desktop environment by default; however, you can change them according to your needs.


  • There are over 600 penetration testing tools provided.
  • It is a free and open-source operating system.
  • Open source Git tree.
  • Compliant with FHS.
  • Wireless device compatibility is broad.
  • Custom kernel that has been patched for injection.
  • Created in a safe setting.
  • Packages and repositories signed using GPG.
  • Support for several languages.
  • It is completely customizable.
  • ARMEL and ARMHF assistance.


  • Cannot play high graphics games in Kali Linux.
  • Not suitable for novices due to advanced penetration testing tools available in it.
  • Not installed by default, in most machines.


Ubuntu is a free and open-source Linux operating system based on Debian that was released in 2004. Ubuntu, which is backed by Canonical Ltd., is often recognized as a great distribution for newcomers and is widely used in educational settings. The GNOME environment, which comprises a graphical user interface (GUI) and a library of desktop programs for Linux, is used by the default version of Ubuntu.

GNOME is intended to be similar to the Windows desktop experience in order to make Linux more user-friendly for non-programmers. Furthermore, Ubuntu supports a wide range of languages and keyboard combinations, ensuring that individuals from any group and location may use it.

Flavors of Ubuntu

  • Ubuntu Server Addition
  • Ubuntu Studio
  • Edubuntu is a version of Ubuntu designed specifically for educational reasons.
  • Kubuntu employs KDE (Kool Desktop environment) as the primary GUI environment
  • Xubuntu, which is used when computing capacity is limited.
  • JeOS (just enough operating system) is appropriate for virtual applications.

Features of Ubuntu

No Antivirus Software
In other operating systems, antivirus software is often installed to safeguard your machine from malicious actions. However, no additional software is required for protection on Ubuntu. It contains built-in safeguards to keep your data safe. It has features that assure data security.

Several Variants
It has many variants that can be used for different use cases.

  • Ubuntu Server Addition
  • Ubuntu Studio
  • Edubuntu
  • Kubuntu
  • Xubuntu
  • JeOS (just enough OS)

Release Cycle
The release cycle of Ubuntu is 6 months with the Long Term Support (LTS) cycle being 2 years. This ensures that the bugs are resolved faster with upcoming updates.

Privacy and Security
Ubuntu is an operating system that allows numerous users to interact. It is feasible for several people to operate on the same computer at the same time. However, unless the superuser provides permission, a user cannot view the data of another user. Because an organization may have users with varied roles and not everyone should have all of the permissions, this is one of the most significant components for an organization when working on the same system.

Free and Open Source
Ubuntu is an operating system that is both free and open source. This is beneficial since there may be a large number of unique ideas that may be put into the source codes. Because users may post issues on GitHub, which contributors can swiftly solve, open source also aids in the quick resolution of bugs. Because Ubuntu is open source, developers have built a plethora of versions that users may use based on their needs.

Multiple CPU Architecture Support
Ubuntu supports multiple CPU architectures, including Intel x86, AMD64, ARM, Power Servers, etc., which makes it suitable for a variety of devices.

Advantages of Ubuntu

  • Beginner Friendly.
  • Regular updates help resolve bugs faster.
  • Customizable according to use case.
  • Minimal Hardware requirements.
  • It ensures security and privacy.
  • It is free and open-source.


  • Not suitable for intensive workloads such as servers.
  • Cannot play video games with high graphics.
  • Major activities are completed via CLI, which is difficult for non-developers to operate
  • Most PCs do not have it installed by default.

Descriptive Comparison of Ubuntu and Kali Linux

Penetration Testing
As previously stated, Kali Linux is best suited for programmers with an interest and experience in ethical hacking and penetration testing because it includes many advanced tools such as Aircrack-ng, Armitage, Burp suite, BeEF, Autopsy, Cisco Global Exploiter, Ettercap, Hashcat, John the Ripper, Kismet, Lynis, Maltego, and others that can only be used by these people. These tools can sometimes make it difficult for non-programmers to use Kali. Ubuntu, on the other side, is designed so that even amateurs may use it. It is not included with powerful penetration testing tools by default.

Desktop Environment
Kali Linux uses the XFCE desktop environment by default, whereas Ubuntu uses the Gnome environment. XFCE is a relatively stable, more configurable, fast, and easy-to-use environment than Gnome. This is one major reason why Kali Linux is a bit faster than Ubuntu.

Head-to-Head Comparison of Ubuntu and Kali Linux

Point of comparison Kali Linux Ubuntu
Company Offensive Security Canonical
Year of Launching It was initially launched in 2013 It was initially launched in 2004
Suitable for Penetration testing General-purpose and education
Desktop Environment XFCE Gnome
Interface Suitable for typical and experienced programmers Suitable for novices
Speed Faster than Ubuntu Sometimes slower than Kali Linux


We went over a detailed comparison of Ubuntu vs Kali Linux in this article. Kali Linux is intended for programmers who have prior expertise or an interest in penetration testing. It includes a large range of penetration testing tools and runs on a stable, fast, and customizable XFCE desktop environment. On the other hand, Ubuntu is more suited for novices who want to learn about Linux distributions. It is designed in such a way that a Windows user who moves to Ubuntu will have no trouble understanding the user interface.

About the author

Simran Kaur

Simran works as a technical writer. The graduate in MS Computer Science from the well known CS hub, aka Silicon Valley, is also an editor of the website. She enjoys writing about any tech topic, including programming, algorithms, cloud, data science, and AI. Travelling, sketching, and gardening are the hobbies that interest her.