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Running Kali Linux on Docker

Docker is a great way of running an isolated environment for testing. A few people have been asking me is it possible to run Kali Linux in Docker. Kali is a great use case for Docker under the right circumstances. In all honesty, I have not used it often, but in general, I find Docker is well suited for Kali in circumstances where you can use all command-line tools. The first step is to download Docker.

You will need to create a Docker community username login on the website.

You can install the appropriate desktop application for your operating system.

The next step is to install the Kali Docker Image. It is important to remember that Kali’s Docker image is extremely streamlined. It contains no tools and is very bare bones. Don’t worry; we will show you how to install tools on the Kali Docker Image.

From your terminal screen: docker pull kalilinux/kali-linux-docker

This action will download and install the Docker image.

The next step will be to run the Kali Docker image by issuing the command:

docker run -t -i kalilinux/kali-linux-docker /bin/bash

The (minus) t option invokes a tty terminal (basically a reverse shell) to the image. The /bin/bash launches the bash terminal environment.

Now we are going to perform the minor updates by issuing the command:

apt-get update -y && apt-get –y

We also want to make sure we have the latest version of the Kali Docker image; we will issue the following command:

apt dist-upgrade

Whenever we use the apt-get update, upgrade, or install commands, we leave libraries for other software. We might want to clean this up for software that no longer uses those dependencies by issuing the command:

apt autoremove

Now we need to install some software on Kali.

The first thing is let’s install Metasploit:apt-get update && apt-get install metasploit-framework

We can ensure this working, by invoking the following command:


Kali makes it easy to install software packages because they are grouped in bundles called metapackages.

The name of these bundles can be found here:

Let’s assume we want to install the top ten tools package by running the command:

apt-get install kali-linux-top10

If you want all the Kali tools, you could, in theory, could install all the metapackages.Your next step (if needed) might be to add SSHserver to your Kali image A detailed explanation on installing SSH on Kali can be found here:

Change root password on Kali Docker Image

1. update-rc.d -f ssh remove

2. update-rc.d -f ssh defaults

3. rm /etc/ssh/ssh_host_*

4. dpkg-reconfigure openssh-server

5. Next edit the /etc/ssh/sshd_conig file to permit root access login

6. Add the line PermitRootLogin yes under the Authentication section

7. Restart the SSH server service ssh restart

8. Auto start SSH update-rc.d -f ssh enable 2 3 4 5

One last step in getting started, you might want to make a copy of your Docker container. You can do this from the command line by issuing the “docker commit container_id new_container_name command.

Go back to your command line (leave Kali)

1. Issue the docker ps –a to see all active and inactive images

My Kali container ID for Kali is: 9b990aaa5f2a

I will now issue the command:

docker commit 9b990aaa5f2a my-custom-kali

to create a new container

You can see you now have an additional container created. You now are on your way to dockering around with Kali Linux!


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