Linux Distros

Kali Linux 2021.4 improves ARM support and updates desktops

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Three months after the last launch (or penultimate, depending on how you see it), we already have between us Kali Linux 2021.4, the latest version of the distribution aimed at security audits and which provides a large number of tools for conducting penetration testing and ethical hacking. Despite being a system created for specific purposes, in recent times it has evolved to be more user-friendly for desktop use.

From Kali Linux 2021.4 what stands out are the improvements in hardware and virtual reality support and the update of the desktop environments, an area in which it offers variety while keeping Xfce as the default option.

For starters, thanks to the inclusion of Linux 5.14, Kali Linux already works on build for Apple Silicon from the VMware Fusion Tech Preview, the virtualization solution of the well-known company for teams from the bitten apple. This means that the system has support for the virtual GPU, in addition to the update of the ‘open-vm-tools’ package and the automatic detection of a VMware environment to install the package ‘open-vm-tools-desktop’ by default on installation. Those responsible for the distribution remember that this support is limited for now to the 64-bit ARM architecture.

Continuing with more ARM related stuff, but switching to Raspberry Pi, it has been added support for the Raspberry Pi Zero 2W, default boot support via USB drives and Nexmon firmware has been included so that you can switch between versions. From now on all ARM images will use EXT4 as the default filesystem and the PineBook Pro can be overclocked. The ARM build scripts have been simplified and allow you to choose a desktop or leave the system without a desktop and without tools.

Delving into aspects less exposed to users, the Samba client has been configured to offer broad compatibility by default that allows you to connect to any server. This change should make it easier to detect vulnerable Samba servers by default, without the need to configure the system.

Setting up the Samba client on Kali Linux

Another interesting novelty of Kali Linux 2021.4 is that you can use ‘kali-tweaks’ to quickly configure the mirror on which APT is supported, being able to easily choose between the community mirrors or use the CloudFlare CDN. Those responsible have said that there is no good answer to this question, so everything is delegated to the experience obtained by the user.

Setting up the mirror for APT on Kali Linux

Regarding desktops, through this release GNOME 41 and KDE Plasma 5.23 are served with some modifications, but maintaining the main characteristics of both. More interesting is the issue with Xfce, for which the panel layout has been modified to optimize horizontal space and make room for two new widgets: one to see the CPU usage and the other to show the VPN IP.

The way you work with Xfce workspaces has received some major changes, since its overview has been configured with the appearance of “buttons” to make it less confusing for users and the default number has been set to four. This is in addition to keyboard shortcuts for moving between workspaces, as well as adding and removing them. A shortcut to start a command line session with PowerShell.

In addition to everything mentioned so far, a series of new tools and the introduction of support for window themes and icons for Koboxer have been added, so it will stop looking like it is not integrated with the system.

All the details about Kali Linux 2021.4 can be consulted in the official announcement, while the system is available in various formats from the download section of the project website.

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