5 Best Operating Systems For Ethical Hacking And Penetration Testing | 2017 Edition

Wondering which operating system is best for ethical hacking and pen testing purposes? Here is the top 5 list of the operating system tested by hacking ship. All of these operating systems are based on Linux kernel and totally free to use. Download links for the all the operating systems are mentioned at the bottom of every respective topic.

Kali Linux:


Kali Linux maintained and funded by Offensive Security Ltd. is first on our list. Kali Linux is a Debian-derived Linux distribution designed for digital forensics and penetration testing. Kali is the one of the best and favorite operating systems of hackers.

It was developed by Mati Aharoni and Devon Kearns of Offensive Security through the rewrite of BackTrack, their previous forensics Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. Kali Linux has a dedicated project set-aside for compatibility and porting to specific Android devices, called Kali Linux NetHunter. It is the first Open Source Android penetration testing platform for Nexus devices, created as a joint effort between the Kali community member “BinkyBear” and Offensive Security. It supports Wireless 802.11 frame injection, one-click MANA Evil Access Point setups, HID keyboard (Teensy like attacks), as well as Bad USB MITM attacks.

Features: BackTrack (Kali’s predecessor) contained a mode known as a forensic mode. This capability was carried over to Kali via live boot. This forensic mode is very popular for many reasons such as many Kali users already have a bootable Kali USB drive or CD, and this option makes it easy to apply Kali to a forensic job. There are however some changes to forensic mode over the regular operation of the system, such as forensic mode doesn’t touch the hard drive or swap space and auto mounting is disabled. However, it is recommended by the developers that if Kali is going to be used for real world forensics that these things be tested in that environment.

Supported Platforms: Kali Linux is distributed in 32- and 64-bit images for use on hosts based on the x86 instruction set and as an image for the ARM architecture for use on the BeagleBoard computer and on Samsung’s ARM Chromebook. Kali Linux is already available for BeagleBone Black, HP Chromebook, CubieBoard 2, CuBox, CuBox-i, Raspberry Pi, EfikaMX, Odroid U2, Odroid XU, Odroid XU3, Samsung Chromebook, Utilite Pro, Galaxy Note 10.1 and SS808.

Download Kali Linux

Parrot Security OS:


Parrot Security OS (or ParrotSec) is a Linux distribution based on Debian with a focus on computer security.[1] It is designed for penetration testingvulnerability assessment and mitigation, computer forensics and anonymous web browsing. It is developed by the Frozenbox Team.


ParrotSec is intended to provide penetrating testing tools equipped with many different kinds of tools for users to be tested in their lab.


Parrot is based on Debian‘s testing branch (stretch), with a custom Linux 4.9 kernel. It follows a rolling release development model.

The desktop environment is MATE, and the default display manager is LightDM.

The project is certified to run on devices which have a minimum of 256MB of RAM, and it is suitable for both 32-bit (i386) and 64-bit (amd64) processor architectures. Moreover, the project is available for ARMv7 (armhf) architectures. It even offers an edition (both 32-bit and 64-bit) developed specifically for servers to carry out cloud service penetration testing.

In June 2017, ParrotSec announced they were considering to change from Debian to Devuan, mainly because of problems with the highly controversial systemd.

Download Parrot Security OS



BackBox is a penetration test and security assessment oriented Ubuntu-based Linux distribution providing a network and informatic systems analysis toolkit. BackBox desktop environment includes a complete set of tools required for ethical hacking and security testing.


The main aim of BackBox is providing an alternative, highly customizable and well-performing system. BackBox uses the light window manager Xfce.

It includes some of the most used security and analysis Linux tools, aiming for a wide spread of goals, ranging from web application analysis to network analysis, from stress tests to sniffing, also including vulnerability assessment, computer forensic analysis, and exploitation.

Part of the power of this distribution comes from its Launchpad repository core, constantly updated to the latest stable version of the most known and used ethical hacking-tools. The integration and development of new tools in the distribution follows the open source community, particularly the Debian Free Software Guidelines criteria.


The BackBox Linux project was born in southern Italy in 2010. The project was begun on the initiative of a single individual. Within a few m onths, it accrued a well-populated community which continues to expand.

Download Backbox

Samurai Web Testing Framework:


Samurai Web Testing Framework is basically a live Linux environment that comes pre-configured to work as a web pen-testing platform. The framework contains multiple free and open source hacking tools for detecting vulnerabilities in websites. It’s often called the best operating system for Web Penetration Testing.

The Samurai Web Testing Framework is a live Linux environment that has been pre-configured to function as a web pen-testing environment. The CD contains the best of the open source and free tools that focus on testing and attacking websites. In developing this environment, we have based our tool selection on the tools we use in our security practice. We have included the tools used in all four steps of a web pen-test.

Download Samurai Web Testing Framework


Pentoo Linux:


Pentoo is a Live CD and Live USB designed for penetration testing and security assessment. Based on Gentoo Linux, Pentoo is provided both as 32 and 64 bit installable live CD. Pentoo is also available as an overlay for an existing Gentoo installation. It features packet injection patched wifi drivers, GPGPU cracking software, and lots of tools for penetration testing and security assessment. The Pentoo kernel includes grsecurity and PAX hardening and extra patches – with binaries compiled from a hardened toolchain with the latest nightly versions of some tools available.






5External links


Available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, the latter having a significant speed increase from 32bit.

Includes the required environment to crack passwords using GPGPU with openCL and CUDA configured ‘out of the box’.

Built on hardened linux, including a hardened kernel and toolchain.

Hardened kernel with extra patches.

Uses a Pentoo overlay, which allows tools to be built on top of a standard Gentoo build.

Although the latest official release was 2009.0, there are still regular contributions and updates to the overlay to keep the distribution up to date. Update: 2012.0 Had been officially released July 30, 2012.

Support for full disk encryption with LUKs if installed on HDD.

Automated installation.


Tools are installed with versioned ebuilds and open-ended ebuilds, making it possible to pull in the latest subversions and still have installs tracked by package management. The following tool categories are included:



















Download Pentoo OS

Source: Wikipedia

Image source: Google images





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