How to Install Kali Linux on VMware Workstation Player?

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Kali Linux is an open-source and free Debian-based Linux distribution designed for penetration testing. There are more than 600 tools pre-installed in Kali, which makes it the best operating system in terms of penetration testing.

VMware is virtualization software that allows us to run an operating system virtually.

This means you can run an operating system inside another operating system using this software. The OS installed in VMware is called a virtual machine or the guest OS.

You can download VMware Workstation Player which is free for personal use. If you want to use VMware commercially then you have to buy the VMware Workstation pro.

Go to VMware product download page, where you’ll find the latest versions of all VMware products. Scroll down and find VMware Workstation Player.

I am not covering VMware Workstation player installation, as it is pretty straightforward.

Now, there are two ways to install Kali Linux on VMware:

1. To download and import the kali Linux VMware image provided by kali itself. (Quickest way)

2. To manually install Kali Linux on VMware using the ISO file.

In this post, we are going to cover the second way, that is, to install Kali Linux on VMware using the ISO file.

Pre-Requisites to install Kali Linux on VMware

  • Minimum 20 GB of free disk space.
  • Minimum 4 GB of RAM.
  • VMware Workstation Player installed and running.
  • Internet to download Kali Linux ISO image.

Steps to install Kali Linux on VMware

This step by step guide is explained with screenshots for easy understanding.

If your system meets the pre-requisites, then let’s install Kali Linux on VMware.

Step 1: Download Kali Linux ISO Image

Head over to Kali Linux Downloads section to download Kali Linux ISO image.

You can download 64bit or 32bit ISO image depending on your system architecture.

Download Kali Linux ISO image

Download “Installer” version, don’t download “NetInstaller” or “Live” image.

It can take time to download depending on your internet speed. Once downloaded, proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Create new VMware container for Kali

To install Kali Linux on VMware, first let’s setup the virtual environment.

1. Start VMware workstation player and click on “Create a new virtual machine”.

Create New Virtual Machine in VMware Player

2. Installer disk image file: Browse and select the Kali Linux ISO image file you downloaded earlier, then click on Next.

Browse and Select Kali ISO image

3. Guest Operating System: Choose Linux and set version as Debian 9.x 64bit (if you have 64bit architecture). Kali Linux is not available as a version in VMware, so you can choose Debian. Kali is based on Debian architecture.

Select Operating System Type and Version

4. Name the virtual Machine: Provide a name for your virtual machine (I am using Kali Linux). You can also change the location if you don’t have enough space on the drive (I am leaving it as default). Click Next.

Virtual machine name and location

5. Specify Disk Capacity: Choose a disk space for your new kali machine. It is recommended to provide 20 GB disk space (I am giving it 25 GB). Also, select “Store Virtual Disk as a single file option” before clicking next.

Provide Disk Space for Kali VM

6. Customize Hardware: Click on “Customize hardware” button and select the memory you want to give to your Kali Linux machine.

Click on Customize Hardware button

It is recommended to give it 2GB (I am giving it 2GB). After adjusting memory, click close.

Allocate memory for Kali VM

7. Click on Finish.

Step 3: Install Kali Linux on VMware

Let’s install Kali Linux on VMware.

1. Start VMware and select the Kali Linux machine and click on “Play virtual machine” button.

Start Kali Linux VM

2. Kali Linux Installer Menu: Select “Graphical install”.

install kali linux on vmware
Select Graphical Install

3. Select a language: Select your preferred language and click continue.

install kali linux on vmware
Select Language

4. Select your location: Choose your preferred location form the list and click continue.

install kali linux on vmware
Select Location

5. Configure the keyboard: Choose your desired keyboard layout and click continue.

install kali linux on vmware
Configure Keyboard Layout

6. Enter a hostname for your system: (I am using “kali” as hostname). You can also change hostname later. Click on continue.

install kali linux on vmware
Enter a hostname

7. Enter a domain name: If you don’t have a domain name registered, you can make something up (I am using “” as domain name). Click on Continue.

Enter a Domain Name

8. Set up users and Passwords: Enter your full name and click continue.

Enter your Full Name

9. Select a username: You can enter any username you want and click on continue.

install kali linux on vmware
Enter a username

10. Setup Password: Set password for the user you created earlier. and click on continue.

Set up password for user

11. Configure the clock: Select a time-zone and click continue.

Select Time Zone

12. Partition Disks: Unlike installing on main hardware, you can choose “Guided – use the entire disk” option on VMware. Partitioning hard disk for the virtual machine doesn’t affect the main system. It will create partitions in the virtual disk (25 GB) we created earlier when setting up the virtual environment. Click on continue.

Guided – Use Entire Disk

13. Select the disk and click continue.

install kali linux on vmware
Select Disk

14. Choose all files in one partition (recommended for new users) and click on continue.

Select All Files in One Partition

15. Select Finish Partitioning and write changes to disk and then click on continue.

Finish Partitioning

16. Select “Yes” to write the changes and click on continue.

install kali linux on vmware
Select Yes to write changes to disks

The installation process will begin.

After installing the base system, you’ll be prompted with software selection.

17. Software Selection: Choose the software you want to install (If you are unsure, then you can also leave it as default) and click continue.

Select Software

It will take some time to complete the software installation. Once it’s completed you’ll be prompted to install the GRUB bootloader.

18. Install the GRUB Bootloader: Select “Yes” and click continue.

install kali linux on vmware
Install GRUB

19. Select /dev/sda drive for bootloader installation and click continue.

Select Location to Install GRUB

20. Finish the installation:  Click continue to boot into your newly installed kali system.

install kali linux on vmware
Installation is Finished

Once Kali is booted, you ‘ll see Kali Linux login screen.

Log in to Kali using the username and password you created earlier.

install kali linux on vmware
Kali Linux Desktop

You’ll see the Kali Linux Desktop.

Step 4: Install VMware tools (Optional)

VMware tools provide useful drivers and utilities that improve the performance of virtual machines and provide many other benefits like:

  • Shared Clipboard (Copy and paste from main to the virtual machine and vice versa).
  • Drag and Drop functionality.
  • Improves resolution for virtual machines.
  • Improve color depth.
  • Improves sound.
  • Improved network adapter performance.
  • Provides Smooth Mouse Experience.
  • Time Sync between guest and host machine.

If you have problems with resolutions of the virtual machine or want to share files between main and virtual machine, then you can install VMware tools.

To install VMware tools:

1. Open terminal in Kali and update the repositories:

sudo apt update

2. Install open-vm-tools package:

sudo apt-get install open-vm-tools-desktop

3. Restart the Kali machine for changes to take effect.


4. You can check the version of installed VMware tools:

vmware-toolbox-cmd -v


Having a pen-testing lab is a great idea if you want to practice your hacking skills.

I have written full guide to create a penetration testing lab:

Hacking for beginners: Setup a Penetration Testing lab

You can also checkout my other guides related to hacking where I use kali Linux to exploit different types of vulnerabilities.

File Upload Vulnerability

Command Injection Vulnerability

File Inclusion Vulnerability

The Ultimate Guide to Cross Site Scripting

I hope this guide helped you to install Kali Linux on VMware workstation player without any problems.

It was pretty easy isn’t it?

You can comment your thoughts below.

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Rahul R Nair

Rahul is obsessed with technology and electronic devices. He is also the founder of TechSphinx. Being a technophile, he is always busy doing some techy stuff or learning about the latest technologies. When not busy with his usual routine (staring at the computer screen) he likes to write and share his knowledge with the world.
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