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Kali Linux vs Ubuntu: What are the differences?

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# Key Differences between Kali Linux and Ubuntu

1. **Objective**: Kali Linux is specifically designed for digital forensics and penetration testing, with built-in tools for these purposes. On the other hand, Ubuntu is a more general-purpose operating system with a focus on ease of use for average users. 

2. **Default Applications**: In Kali Linux, the default applications installed are geared towards security testing, such as Wireshark, Aircrack-ng, and Metasploit, while Ubuntu comes with more mainstream applications like LibreOffice, Firefox, and Thunderbird. 

3. **Security Focus**: Kali Linux places a higher priority on security out of the box, with features such as a non-root user model and network services disabled by default. Ubuntu, while still secure, may require additional configuration for enterprise-level security requirements.

4. **Release Cycle**: Ubuntu follows a regular release schedule with new versions every 6 months, focusing on stability and long-term support (LTS) versions every 2 years. In contrast, Kali Linux has rolling releases, meaning users always have the latest tools and updates without the need for major version upgrades.

5. **Community Support**: Ubuntu has a larger user base and community support compared to Kali Linux, making it easier to find solutions to common issues or receive help from other users. Kali Linux, being more specialized, has a smaller but dedicated community focused on security testing.

6. **User Interface**: Ubuntu comes with the GNOME desktop environment by default, providing a modern and user-friendly interface, while Kali Linux uses the lightweight Xfce desktop environment for performance and resource efficiency, catering to its target audience of security professionals.

In Summary, Kali Linux and Ubuntu have distinct differences in their focus, default applications, security measures, release cycles, community support, and user interfaces.

Decisions about Kali Linux and Ubuntu

Ubuntu is much more faster over Windows and helps to get software and other utilities easier and within a short span of time compared to Windows.

Ubuntu helps to get robustness and resiliency over Windows. Ubuntu runs faster than Windows on every computer that I have ever tested. LibreOffice (Ubuntu's default office suite) runs much faster than Microsoft Office on every computer that I have ever tested.

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Jerome/Zen Quah

Global familiarity, free, widely used, and as a debian distro feels more comfortable when rapidly switching between local macOS and remote command lines.

CentOS does boast quite a few security/stability improvements, however as a RHEL-based distro, differs quite significantly in the command line and suffers from slightly less frequent package updates. (Could be a good or bad thing depending on your use-case and if it is public facing)

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Simon Aronsson
Developer Advocate at k6 / Load Impact · | 7 upvotes · 270.9K views

At the moment of the decision, my desktop was the primary place I did work. Due to this, I can't have it blow up on me while I work. While Arch is interesting and powerful, Ubuntu offers (at least for me) a lot more stability and lets me focus on other things than maintaining my own OS installation.

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Pros of Kali Linux
Pros of Ubuntu
  • 8
    Penetration testing tools are pre-installed
  • 8
    Has many penetration testing tools
  • 5
    Runs on both x86 and ARM platforms
  • 3
    Its just debian so it has better support
  • 1
    There's no restrictions
  • 230
    Free to use
  • 96
    Easy setup for testing discord bot
  • 57
    Gateway Linux Distro
  • 54
    Simple interface
  • 9
    Don't need driver installation in most cases
  • 6
    Open Source
  • 6
    Many active communities
  • 3
    Software Availability
  • 3
    Easy to custom
  • 2
    Many flavors/distros based on ubuntu
  • 1
    Lightweight container base OS
  • 1
    Great OotB Linux Shell Experience

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Cons of Kali Linux
Cons of Ubuntu
  • 3
    Wireless driver issues on some systems
  • 3
    Packages are too large in size as compare to alpine
  • 3
    Outdated versions of common packages
  • 2
    Root GUI setup is a potential security hole
  • 5
    Demanding system requirements
  • 4
    Adds overhead and unnecessary complexity over Debian
  • 2
    Snapd installed by default
  • 1

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What is Kali Linux?

It is a Debian-based Linux distribution aimed at advanced Penetration Testing and Security Auditing. It contains several hundred tools which are geared towards various information security tasks, such as Penetration Testing, Security research, Computer Forensics and Reverse Engineering.

What is Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning ‘humanity to others’. It also means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Ubuntu operating system brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the world of computers.

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What companies use Kali Linux?
What companies use Ubuntu?
See which teams inside your own company are using Kali Linux or Ubuntu.
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What tools integrate with Kali Linux?
What tools integrate with Ubuntu?

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What are some alternatives to Kali Linux and Ubuntu?
Arch Linux
A lightweight and flexible Linux distribution that tries to Keep It Simple.
A clone of the operating system Unix, written from scratch by Linus Torvalds with assistance from a loosely-knit team of hackers across the Net. It aims towards POSIX and Single UNIX Specification compliance.
Linux Mint
The purpose of Linux Mint is to produce a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use.
Debian systems currently use the Linux kernel or the FreeBSD kernel. Linux is a piece of software started by Linus Torvalds and supported by thousands of programmers worldwide. FreeBSD is an operating system including a kernel and other software.
The CentOS Project is a community-driven free software effort focused on delivering a robust open source ecosystem. For users, we offer a consistent manageable platform that suits a wide variety of deployments. For open source communities, we offer a solid, predictable base to build upon, along with extensive resources to build, test, release, and maintain their code.
See all alternatives