Kali Linux vs Ubuntu – Which Distro is Better for Hacking?

Kali Linux is the most popular penetration testing and hacking Linux distroibution and Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution. Since it is kind of common knowledge that Linux is a more convenient OS to use for hacking than Windows, the next question is a no-brainer; which Linux distro is the best to use for hacking?

But what is hacking anyway? And why does it matter which distribution is being used? Let’s get to it.

What Does It Mean to Hack?

Computer hacking is the act of using technical knowledge to overcome a problem. With that in mind, a hacker can refer to any skilled programmer but thanks to pop culture the hacker term is now synonymous with a security hacker – one who uses technical skills to create bugs to exploit security weaknesses in computer systems and break in.

In a nutshell, the typical hacker is a security expert whose job is to break into computer systems using ingenious methods, especially over networks. In today’s world, hackers are penetration testers. Another way to rephrase our main question is, therefore “Kali Linux vs Ubuntu – which one is better for penetration testing and network administration?”

Kali Linux vs. Ubuntu

Both Kali Linux and Ubuntu are Debian-based Operating Systems so they seem to be identical in their operations. If not for the Desktop Environment that Kali Linux ships with you can’t accurately guess which is which.

The major difference between both OSes, however, is their target audience – which influences the selection of apps they offer straight out of the box.

Kali Linux is designed for security specialists so it ships with a plethora of penetration and security testing apps that allow its users get straight to work.

Read Also: The Best 20 Hacking and Penetration Tools for Kali Linux

Ubuntu is designed with no particular audience in mind other than the general computer user. It features a more user-friendly User Interface – in other words, less techy appearance.

You can add any installable software to your app collection in both Operating Systems so choosing your hacking OS boils down to your preference and technical know-how.

Which Do You Choose?

Kali Linux comes with over 600 preinstalled penetration testing tools coupled with live boot capability – features that make Kali Linux an ideal workstation for vulnerability testing. But of what use is all those apps if you don’t really know how to use them?

What about bloatware? Do you really need 600+ apps to do the same sets of tasks?

My advice? If you’re a security expert with enough know-how to filter which of Kali’s 600+ apps will be useful to you then go ahead.

If you’re new to network security or new to Linux then, by all means, use Ubuntu to familiarize yourself with the Linux ecosystem and then graduate to using specialized distros like Kali Linux and BackBox.

Of course, you can also begin your Linux experience using Kali Linux, but that often times seems to be more difficult than imagined.

Ubuntu is more friendly to Linux beginners, its latest version offers an appealing UI/UX, and it can also be used to take Linux certification examinations.

Which of both distros would you say is better to use for hacking? Are there distros that are even better suited for the job? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Divine Okoi is a cybersecurity postgrad with a passion for the open-source community. With 700+ articles covering different topics in IT, you can always trust him to inform you about the coolest tech.

Each tutorial at GeeksMint is created by a team of experienced writers so that it meets our high-quality writing standards.

5 thoughts on “Kali Linux vs Ubuntu – Which Distro is Better for Hacking?”

  1. Actually, using unbutu and installing the pen testing tools from kali linux that you would need, is actually better. i find unbutu to be more stable.

  2. Little clicky bait title. Obviously the answer which is best is Kali for hacking. Thought you might mention something new how Ubuntu could be used in hacking comparible with Kali.
    I guess the writer has not much experience in the IT security field.

  3. Ubuntu vs. Kali for pen-testing?!
    How is this even a question?

    That’s like asking “Jeep vs Ferrari – which is better for mud-bogging?” and just about as useful.

    • Okay, “Jeep vs. Ferrari – which is better for mud-bogging?” is an extreme analogy but I get your drift.
      Kali is always going to be better for pen-testing because that is what it was built for. And my assumption is that no matter how well you tweak Ubuntu, Kali will always have the edge.

      That not withstanding, I would advice a pen-testing newbie to start with Ubuntu and tweak their way all the way to when they can make the Kali switch.

  4. When i first read the heading, a thought came in my mind like, who even compares Kali Linux to Ubuntu. We are talking about the most advanced operating system for penetration testing and ethical hacking here, which ships in with all the necessary and best tools for pentesting and security auditing, verses the most popular Linux distribution on desktops.

    Okay, after reading through the article, i tried to convince myself to believing that this is a legitimate comparison. However, even though Ubuntu is designed for general purpose usage, it may not efficiently, effectively and reliably support all pentesting and security auditing tools, especially the advanced tools that require a highly customized operating system like Kali Linux.

    Ubuntu can work for pentesting newbies who may also want to install security tools alongside other software(for instance productivity software), not present in the Kali repos, but it is not suitable for advanced pentesting projects. Kali Linux is out and out a dedicated, comprehensively built pentesting and hacking platform.

    Therefore, it is truly unfair to compare Kali Linux to Ubuntu in the realm of pentesting, hacking as well as security auditing. Anyway, many thanks for igniting an interesting debate, i can’t wait to get views from Linux and ethical hacking world.


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