Operating Systems for Penetration Testing & Digital Forensics

Penetration testing is the activity of testing a software by trained security experts in order to find out its security vulnerabilities.

There are thousands of standalone tools for penetration testing and forensic investigation, if you are practicing penetration testing and ethical hacking, then you will love the following Linux-based operating systems.

Kali Linux

Kali Linux is one of the most popular advanced penetration testing Linux distributions based on Debian. Having more than 300 tools in the following categories and extensive documentation makes Kali excellent penetration testing utility for:

  • Information Gathering
  • Vulnerability Analysis
  • Wireless, Password, Hardware Attacks
  • Web Applications
  • Exploitation, Forensics. Stress Testing, Reporting
  • Sniffing, Spoofing,
  • Reverse Engineering

Kali Linux is available in 64 bit, 32 bit and virtual images to download.


BackBox Linux is a penetration testing and security assessment oriented Linux distribution providing a network and systems analysis toolkit.

It includes some of the most commonly known/used security and analysis tools, aiming for a wide spread of goals, ranging from web application analysis to network analysis, stress tests, sniffing, vulnerability assessment, computer forensic analysis, automotive and exploitation.

It has been built on Ubuntu core system yet fully customized, designed to be one of the best Penetration testing and security distribution.

Fedora Security Lab

Fedora Security Lab is a Fedora Lab intended for forensic analysis and penetration testing. This special edition of Fedora comes full of useful utilities, applications, and programs that both professionals and hobbyists alike will find useful to use for penetration testing situations.


ArchStrike is based on Arch Linux for security professional and available to download for the following platform.

  • 64 bit
  • 32 bit
  • VirtualBox
  • VMWare


Pentoo is a Live CD and Live USB designed for penetration testing and security assessment. Based on Gentoo Linux, Pentoo is provided both as 32 and 64 bit installable livecd.

Pentoo is also available as an overlay for an existing Gentoo installation. It features packet injection patched wifi drivers, GPGPU cracking software, and lots of tools for penetration testing and security assessment.

Samurai Web Testing Framework

The Samurai Web Testing Framework is a virtual machine, supported on VirtualBox and VMWare, that has been pre-configured to function as a web pen-testing environment. The VM contains some of the best open source free tools that focus on testing and attacking websites.


DEFT (acronym for Digital Evidence & Forensics Toolkit) is a distribution made for Computer Forensics, with the purpose of running live on systems without tampering or corrupting devices (hard disks, pendrives, etc…) connected to the PC where the boot process takes place.

The DEFT system is based on GNU Linux, it can run live (via DVDROM or USB pendrive), installed or run as a Virtual Appliance on VMware or Virtualbox.


BlackArch is another distro based on Arch Linux based with more than 1600 tools. You can install tools individually or in groups. BlackArch Linux is compatible with existing Arch installs.


Caine is an Ubuntu-based security distro that is available as a live disk. It stands for Computer Aided Investigation Environment and can also be run from the hard disk after installation.

Caine comes with a large number of database, memory, forensics, and network analysis applications. This distro for ethical hacking also features common applications like web browsers, email clients, document editors etc. for usual computing purposes.

Network Security Toolkit (NST)

Network Security Toolkit (NST) is bootable ISO live DVD/USB Flash Drive (NST Live) is based on Fedora. The main intent of developing this toolkit was to provide the security professional and network administrator with a comprehensive set of Open Source Network Security Tools.

The majority of tools published in the article: Top 125 Security Tools by INSECURE.ORG are available in the toolkit.


Parrot is a GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian and focused on Penetration Testing, Digital Forensics, Programming and Privacy protection. A complete arsenal of security tools right in your pocket.

A secure and sandboxed system ready to surf and communicate secretly.