Run Kali Linux on Windows with GUI (without VirtualBox)

Hello, this is c477us. Now, what method do you use when you want to run Kali Linux? Many people will use virtual environments such as Virtual Box and VMware. In fact, it's perfect if you want to do penetration testing in a virtual environment. However, there may not be much need to build a virtual environment, such as when performing a penetration test on an external server such as HackTheBox. In that case, there is a way to install Kali Linux ** directly ** on Windows. This time, I will introduce the detailed procedure.

Addendum (2021-01-20): Warning

** The method introduced below is not a virtual environment. Since it is mounted directly on the C drive, mistakes on WSL may extend to the host side. Therefore, if you are not familiar with Linux, we strongly recommend that you first get used to it in a virtual environment. ** **

Introduce Kali

Let's actually introduce it. First, we will introduce WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux), but before that, we will explain a little about WSL.

What is WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux)?

In Linux such as Kali, ** ELF (Executable and Linkable Format) ** is used as the file format. However, Windows does not support this format by default and cannot execute binary data in ELF format, for example.

WSL was developed there. This aims to be able to handle ELF format data without using a virtual environment, and WSL2 announced in June 2019 has achieved considerable compatibility by using the Linux kernel. -> About WSL2

Introduction of WSL

Use PowerShell to deploy WSL.

First, enter ** windows powershell ** in the search bar at the bottom left, and when Windows PowerShell appears in the suggestions field, press ** [Run as administrator] **. If you can start PowerShell with administrator privileges, enter the following command. ** (Note: You will be prompted to reboot when complete) **


Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

After rebooting, enter the command below. ** (Reboot again) **


dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:VirtualMachinePlatform /all /norestart

dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux /all /norestart

After rebooting again, fix the WSL version to the current (2021-01) latest 2.


wsl --set-default-version 2

This completes the introduction of WSL.

Introduction of Kali

Kali Linux is distributed in the Microsoft Store. Search for Kali Linux ** at the URL below or at the ** Microsoft Store and install it.

Kali Linux

Now you have Kali installed. The command line is displayed when you start it like a general Windows application. This is Kali Linux.

When you also want a GUI

~~ Kali itself is now installed, but if you are not familiar with CUI, let's make it work with GUI. ~~

** Addendum (2020-01-14): Kali Desktop Experience For Windows seems to be able to operate GUI without RDP. Add to the end of this item. ** **

First, the operation on the Kali side.


sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade -y

sudo apt install kali-desktop-xfce -y

A screen for selecting the keyboard layout will be displayed, so select it according to your environment. Next, install and run xrdp to set up an RDP server.


sudo apt install xrdp -y
sudo service xrdp start

Also, find out the local IP address on the Kali side.


ip add //ifconfig is OK

Enter ** remote ** in the search field on the Windows side to run the application ** Remote Desktop Connection **. Enter Kali's IP to connect and log in to display the GUI.

When throwing a dbus-launch error

It seems that there are many reports of errors in dbus-launch: no such files or directory, so I will also describe how to deal with it.


sudo service xrdp stop
sudo apt install dbus-x11
sudo service xrdp start

PS: Use Kali Desktop Experience For Windows


sudo apt install kali-win-kex -y


You can operate the GUI with just this. -> Detailed explanation

important point

When installing tools on Kali Linux installed in this way, Defender may play you. Please refer to this video when it is played.

Also, if you inadvertently damage Kali, please watch this video ( to recover.


Actually, I happened to know that Windows can handle Linux by itself, so I wrote an article. In addition, Ubuntu, openSUSE, etc. will work on WSL. If you have any questions about the article, please contact me on Twitter (@ c477us).

Kali Linux

Windows Subsystem of Linux

** References ** Kali Linux: Kali Linux in the Windows App Store

Kali Linux: Win-KeX

NetworkChuck: Kali Linux on Windows in 5min (WSL 2 GUI) NetworkChuck: new Kali Linux GUI on Windows 10 (WSL 2) // 2020.3 Release

Window Forest: "Windows 10 20H1" Build 18917 with "WSL 2" in the "Fast" ring

Wikipedia: Windows Subsystem for Linux Wikipedia: Executable and Linkable Format

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