Guide: Kali Linux 2017 Live USB with Persistence (Windows)

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UPDATE: There is a new version of this guide available for Kali Linux 2018.
Please see: Kali Linux 2018 Live USB with Persistence (Windows)

In this guide we will create a bootable USB of Kali Linux Live and configure a persistent partition so we can retain files and settings between reboots. You will need at least an 8GB USB drive.

If you want encrypted persistence, see this guide: Kali Linux 2017 Live USB with Encrypted Persistence (Windows)

1. Write Kali Linux ISO to USB

Download the latest Kali Linux ISO. Both the 64 bit and 32 bit versions are good for this guide.

Write the ISO to your USB drive using a tool like Universal USB Installer or UNetbootin. In this guide we are using Universal USB Installer.

Select Kali Linux from the dropdown. Browse for your downloaded ISO file and select the correct USB drive.

Check the box Fat32 Format Drive (Erases Content), and then click Create.

It can take up to ten minutes to write the ISO.

2. Resize USB Partition

Once the ISO has finished writing, download and install MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition.

Run the program and locate your USB drive. Right-click on the blue disk space bar and select Move/Resize from the menu.

Resize the partition to 4GB and click OK.

In the example above, I am using a 16GB USB drive.

3. Create Persistence Partition

We now need to create a new partition in our unallocated space.

Right-click on the unallocated space 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 menu, select Ext4.

In the Partition Label field, enter persistence. Be sure to spell this correctly.

Click OK.

Finally, click Apply to begin the partitioning process. It may take some time depending on the size of your USB drive.

4. Boot Live USB

Once partitioning is complete, restart your machine and boot from USB.

You may need to do some searching on Google 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 most machines.

In the Kali boot menu, select Live system and press Enter.  The menu may look different depending on your version of Kali. It’s usually the first option you want here. Don’t select the persistence option yet, we will do that later.

If Kali prompts for login details, the username is root and the password is toor.

5. Mount Persistence Partition

Firstly, we will run fdisk to identify the device name of the persistence partition we created earlier.

Open up a terminal window and run:

fdisk -l

You will see several entries for partitions listed. Look for your USB disk. It will have a boot partition and the persistence partition you created earlier.

The persistence partition device name is usually sdb2, though it may be different depending on your setup.

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 this example, my persistence partition device name is sdb2. With this information, run the following commands:

mkdir -p /mnt/my_usb
mount /dev/sdb2 /mnt/my_usb
echo "/ union" > /mnt/my_usb/persistence.conf
umount /dev/sdb2

We’re done!

Restart the machine 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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22 replies

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jambazi
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jambazi
jambazi
1 year ago

This is an awesome guide. Thanks. Can this work with other Linux distributions eg Ubuntu? or only on Kali?

crypto
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crypto
crypto
1 year ago

Finally a straight forward guide that ACTUALLY WORKS correctly.
many and much thanks!

Ihsan
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Ihsan
Ihsan
1 year ago

I did the same like several times with 32 gb usb of know how brand and after reboting every thing is gone i am again like a new user

Ihsan
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Ihsan
Ihsan
1 year ago

I followed the same steps like several times with 32 gb usb of know how brand and after reboting every thing is gone i am again like a new user

xxxcrow
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xxxcrow
xxxcrow
1 year ago

same, already tried so many things
don’t know what’s wrong 😢

Leafy
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Leafy
Leafy
2 years ago

Hello.
First Thanks for the posting this tutorial, secondly ; Can resizing the disk partion 1 makes my left storage (i have 16 gb data traveler usb) unreadble ? Can i undo all tasks such partitionning and resizing and make my usb normal again? i mean if something goes wrong can i get back to the moment which i did not mess with my usb storage ?
Thanks for responding, i am new to partitionning stuff

Struts3n
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Struts3n
Struts3n
2 years ago

Hi.

I´ve followed the guide exactly, but this still dosent work for me. I also tried it in ext3.
When im creating a “Test” folder and reboot, it dosent work, the folder has been deleted.

So what to do now?

Elik
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Elik
Elik
2 years ago

Hi. i did all steps but unfortunately did not work. After reboot everything disappear.

Somoud
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Somoud
Somoud
2 years ago

Can I use ext3?

D
Guest
D
D
2 years ago

I found with system Ext3 would work most 2 boots and then total mess. Ext4 not a single problem and that’s all I changed was the Ext.

the Comic Guy
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the Comic Guy
the Comic Guy
2 years ago

This issue has as many answers as there are USB drives maddingly attempting persistent storage. Thank you for providing clear, succinct and accurate instructions! Now if you could only address the LUKS encryption I would be set.

John
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John
John
2 years ago

worked perfectly. thanks. and it’s ext4.

Petes
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Petes
Petes
2 years ago

Didn’t worked, had to make the partition ext3.