Kali Linux History

Kali Linux is based on years of knowledge and experience of building a pentestion testing Operating Systems, which has spanned over multiple previous projects. During all these project’s life-time, there has been only a few different developers, as the team has always been small. As a result, Kali has been years in the making and has come a long way.

The first project was called Whoppix, which stood for WhiteHat Knoppix. As can be inferred from the name, it was based on Knoppix for the underlining OS. Whoppix had releases ranging from v2.0 to v2.7.

This made way for the next project, WHAX (or the long hand, WhiteHat Slax). The name change was because the base OS changed from Knoppix to Slax. WHAX started at v3, as a nod towards it carrying on from Whoppix.

There was a similar OS being produced at the same time, Auditor Security Collection (often getting shorted to just Auditor), once again using Knoppix, and efforts were combined (with WHAX) to produce BackTrack. BackTrack was based on Slackware from v1 to v3, but switched to Ubuntu later on with v4 to v5.

Using the experience gained from all of this, Kali Linux came after BackTrack in 2013. Kali started off using Debian stable as the engine under the hood before moving to Debian testing when Kali became a rolling OS.


Below is a rough overview of how Kali Linux came to be:

Date Project Released Base OS
2004-August Whoppix v2 Knoppix
2005-July WHAX v3 Slax
2006-May BackTrack v1 Slackware Live CD 10.2.0
2007-March BackTrack v2 Slackware Live CD 11.0.0
2008-June BackTrack v3 Slackware Live CD 12.0.0
2010-January BackTrack v4 (Pwnsauce) Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex)
2011-May BackTrack v5 (Revolution) Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)
2013-March Kali Linux v1 (Moto) Debian 7 (Wheezy)
2015-August Kali Linux v2 (Sana) Debian 8 (Jessie)
2016-January Kali Linux Rolling Debian Testing

This is only the major releases, there were minor ones to address bug fixes, releases, and tools updates.

For more details about Kali Linux’s history, see this page and our press release. And for more information about Kali Linux’s releases, see this page.


Updated on: 2021-Oct-23
Author: g0tmi1k