1. Download Kali Linux 2020 (Live)
In this guide we are using the Kali Linux 64-Bit (Live) image, though it should work fine with the 32 Bit image as well. This guide also works with Kali Linux 2019 and Kali Linux 2018.
2. Write Kali Linux 2020 Live ISO to USB
- Run Universal USB Installer.
- Select Kali Linux from the dropdown menu. (Kali is listed under Security and Penetration Testing).
- Browse for the Kali Linux 2020 Live ISO you downloaded.
- Select your USB drive from the drowpdown menu.
- Now select the checkbox Fat32 Format Drive (Erases Content).
- Finally, click Create.
It may take a few minutes to write Kali Linux 2020 Live ISO to USB.
3. Resize USB Partition
Now that your Kali Linux 2020 ISO has been written to your USB drive, we can begin setting up partitions to work with Kali Live Persistence. You can configure partitions with the partition manager of your choice, but in this guide we are going to use MiniTool Partition Wizard
When installing Partition Wizard, make sure to uncheck the checkbox on the Avast screen – you don’t need to install that.
Once installed, run and select Disk and Partition Management.
Right-click on the blue disk space bar of your USB drive and click Move/Resize. In the example below, the USB drive is Disk 3 and it has a blue USB icon over it.
Resize the partition to 4GB and click OK. This is the partition where the Kali Linux system files reside and shouldn’t ever need more than 4GB.
4. Create Persistence Partition
We will now create the persistence partition, which will store your personal files and Kali settings.
Right-click on the Unallocated partition and click Create.
Click Yes if you see a message “The new created partition cannot be used in Windows. Because Windows could only recognize the first partition on a removable disk. Do you want to continue?”
In the File System dropdown, select EXT4.
In the Partition Label field, enter persistence. It’s important that you spell this correctly.
Use the maximum partition size available (or the size of your choice) and click OK.
Finally, click Apply in the top left-hand corner and click Yes to apply changes.
The Partition Wizard will now set up your partitions. This may take some time depending on the size of your USB drive.
Once done, close Partition Wizard and safely eject your USB drive.
5. Boot Into Kali 2020 Live USB
To boot from USB in most modern PCs, hold down the
shift key while clicking Restart in the Windows start menu. If this doesn’t work, you may need to do some searching on how to boot from USB on your particular machine. Repeatedly pressing one of the function keys (F12, F2, etc) or the ESC or Delete keys on bootup will invoke the boot or BIOS menus on some machines.
In the Kali boot menu, select Live system (persistence, check kali.org/prst) and press Enter. The menu may look slighly different depending on your version of Kali.
Kali should boot straight to Desktop. However, if you do get a password prompt, the default username and password in Kali Linux 2020 is “kali”. For Kali Linux 2019 and below, the default user is “root” and the password is “toor”.
6. Mount Persistence Partition
Once Kali has booted, we will use
fdisk to view the disk devices and partitions.
Open a new terminal window and run:
sudo fdisk -l
You will see several entries for partitions and devices listed. Look for your USB drive. It will have two partitions: A 4GB partition and a persistence partition you created earlier. The persistence partition should appear as Linux under the Type column.
Device Boot Start End Sectors Size Id Type /dev/sdb1 2048 8390655 8388608 4G c W95 FAT32 (LBA) /dev/sdb2 8390656 30463999 22073344 10.5G 83 Linux
In the above example, we can see the USB drive with a 4GB partition and a larger persistence partition with the device name
sdb2. This device name may be different on your setup. Make sure you have the right one before continuing.
Assuming your persistence partition device name is
sdb2, run the following commands.
IMPORTANT: You must enter these commands exactly and ensure you choose the correct device (yours may not be
sdb2), otherwise persistence will not work.
Create a new mount point called
sudo mkdir -p /mnt/my_usb
Mount your USB persistence partition to
my_usb. Reminder: Your persistence partition may not be
sdb2, please ensure you mount the right one.
sudo mount /dev/sdb2 /mnt/my_usb
Create a new file called
persistence.conf using the nano text editor.
sudo nano /mnt/my_usb/persistence.conf
In this file, type
Save the file and exit. (Press
Y, then press
Now unmount your persistence partition. Reminder: Your persistence partition may not be
sdb2, please ensure you unmount the right one.
sudo umount /dev/sdb2
Restart the machine, boot from USB again, and from now on always select Live system (persistence, check kali.org/prst)
To test if persistence is working correctly, try creating an empty test folder on the Desktop and restarting. Select Live system (persistence, check kali.org/prst) again and if the test folder is still there, persistence is working correctly.
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