Which Image Should I Download?

In this section, we will describe the process of installing Kali Linux on 32-bit and 64-bit hardware using the images published on the Kali Linux download page.


Which Image to Choose

The Kali Linux download page offers three different image types (Installer, NetInstaller and Live) for download, each available for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures.

If in doubt, use the “Installer” image. You will need to check your system architecture to know weather to get 32-bit or 64-bit. If you don’t know it, you’re best to research how to find out (As a rule of thumb, if its older than 2005 you should be okay with amd64/x64/64-bit)


This is the recommended image to install Kali Linux. It contains a local copy of the (meta)packages listed (top10, default & large) so it can be used for complete offline installations without the need of a network connection.

This image cannot be used to boot a live system (such as directly running Kali from a USB). It is only an installer image.


This image can be used if you want the latest package every time you install Kali Linux or the standard installer image is too big to download. This image is very small because it does not contain a local copy of (meta)packages to install. They will all be downloaded during installation, so as a result this requires a network connection which will slow down the installation time.

Only use this image if you have reasons not to use the standard installer image above.

This image cannot be used to boot a live system (such as directly running Kali from a USB). It is only an installer image.


This image is for running Kali Linux without installing it first so it is perfect for running off a USB stick (or a CD/DVD).

You are able to install Kali Linux in its default configuration from this image but you will not be able to choose between desktop environments or to specify additional (meta)packages to install.

Which Desktop Environment and (Meta)Packages to Choose During Installation:

Each Kali Linux installer image (not live) allows the user to select the preferred “Desktop Environment (DE)” and software collection (metapackages) to be installed with operating system (Kali Linux).

We recommend sticking with the default selections and add further packages after the installation as required. Xfce is the default desktop environment, and kali-linux-top10 and kali-linux-default are the tools which get installed at the same time.

At this screen, you may wish to not install a desktop environment, then Kali Linux becomes “headless” (no graphic interface) which uses less system resources up and commonly found on servers, dropboxes, low powered ARM devices, and the cloud. This is meant for people who are completely comfortable with the command line. You are able to install multiple Desktop Environments, allowing you to switch, we wouldn’t recommend it. You may change your mind and switch desktop environments at a later date.

May wish to not to install any of the pre-defined software packages/bundles/collections (metapackages), giving you a finer degree of control of manually installing exactly what software you want. Alternatively you may want to be more prepared and install more than the default toolset. Please be aware, that there are more tools available in Kali which has be manually installed after the setup (as they all cannot be stored in the setup image).

Overall, these extra offers of choices are for a more efficient installation experience meant for advanced users. Please be aware of there pitfalls

The following sections in the “Kali Documentation Installation” of this documentation, will be using the “Installer” image for the guides unless stated otherwise.

Author: Re4son