Rock and Roll your Kali Linux 2016.1 – rolling ftw

You have been using Backtrack first and Kali Linux after, now reaching version 2 (codename “sana”) and you love it, don’t you? Yeah, everybody does. We’ve seen a huge increase in the adoption of this distro by security professionals, geeks and wannabies. The number of tools increased year by year and and so did its stability. Backtrack was Ubuntu based, a fixed distro and as such, you had to reinstall from scratch at any new major release. It was exciting to see the new improvements, but certainly less exciting was backing up your important data, downloading and burning a new ISO, formatting the partition and reinstalling the distro. It represented a waste of time and a disruption of your workflow, especially if you aren’t just a geek but you actually have to work with it. The last version of Backtrack was Backtrack 5 R3 released on 13th August 2012, then it was substituted by Kali linux, a Debian based pentesting distro that made its first appearance on 13th March 2013. At first Kali linux 1.0 was a bit unstable, as a result of this, many people kept using Backtrack for a while or looked for other alternatives like Backbox linux for example (or their custom distro), anyway after some time bugs were fixed, stability improved and Kali 2.0 looked gorgeous with its new tools’ organization, its brand new design and its native support for KDE, GNOME3, Xfce, MATE, e17, lxde and i3wm. Today 21st January 2016 marks another important milestone for Kali linux: the release of Kali linux 2016.1 and the transition to a true rolling system.


kali rolling

kali rolling

Kali switched to a rolling release model with version 2.0 anyway the functionality was restricted to those brave users who changed their source.list file to include the kali-rolling repository. Most of users continued using a semi-rolling distro with packages that cycled through the usual lifecycle of new (edge, testing, unstable), mainstream and stable (but outdated) packages. Starting with Kali linux 2016.1 you finally can get new updated packages fast without having to wait ages or using particular repositories. Every time a new tool is updated, it’s tracked, packaged, tested and released within 24-48 hours by the Kali dev team. The new rolling system has been tested over a period of 5 months and it appears to be stable, so I advise you to start using it NOW!

new Kali linux package tracker

new Kali linux package tracker


  1. backup your data, download and burn the new ISO from here, format the partition and do a fresh install of the new distro
  2. open a terminal window as root and issue the following commands:
    Please note that the sana repository EOL is planned to be on 15th April 2016. After that date there won’t be future updates, so it is advisable to migrate to Kali linux 2016.1 as soon as possible.


As of Sept 2015, VMware recommends using the distribution-specific open-vm-tools instead of the VMware Tools package for guest machines. Kali linux was tested and works correctly with open-vm-tools.

To install them, simply open a new terminal window as root and issue the following commands:



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Author: Fabio Baroni   Date: 2016-01-21 20:27:24

Comments 9

  1. Hi,
    I follow the instructions and updated my system and now it won’t boot. it displayed the sad computer monitor face. Please help

    cat < /etc/apt/sources.list
    deb kali-rolling main non-free contrib

    apt-get update
    apt-get dist-upgrade # get a coffee, or 10.

    1. Post

      Hello themantis, to be honest the commands in my article are taken from the official Kali website and I never experienced any problem (nor did I hear about people). I’m sure if you followed what I wrote step by step you can’t run into any problem, anyway I’d like to help you if possible. Did you solve the problem yet? If you provide more info, I’d be glad to help.

  2. i have kali linux 1.1.0 and i want to upgrade to Rolling Kali linux, i know i must to upgrade into Kali sana first. I just want to know how much data i spent to upgrade from Kali Linux 1.1.0 to Rolling Kali Linux 2016. I hope you can give me the answer by emailing me.

    My E-mail :

    sorry for my bad english, Thankyou for your attention

    1. Post

      Hi Raju, now I don’t recall exactly but it doesn’t need too much data.
      Maybe around 500 Mb for a big upgrade like this one, usually less.
      Since you asked I guess you are using a mobile connection. Although feasible, I recommend you to use a wifi connection if you have any.

  3. Hello, I have Live USB for Kali 2016.1 and its working fine. I need to use updated tools for pentest. Can you guide me how to update the tools in live USB Kali 2016.1.

    Do the above commands will help me to update my live USB KALI which is in 8GB pen drive.

    Please help.

    1. Post

      You don’t need to update the repository since you already have Kali Linux 2016.1
      You only need to update the tools.
      How do you do that?
      Well first you need to update the list of available packages: apt-get update because Kali Linux is Debian based.
      After this you need to issue the command apt-get upgrade. The program apt will look for changes and proceed with the update if there is any available.
      From your question it seems you are new to Linux. I recommend you to study Linux first and then think about penetration testing. Pentesting requires a lot of skills that need to be acquired with time. I can suggest you a book for Linux. Try “How Linux works” published by No Starch Press. It’s beginner’s friendly. After that if you want to dig deeper I recommend you to read “UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook” by Evi Nemeth. I hope to see you around here again. If you have any question, do not hesitate to ask. 🙂

      1. This is very helpful. Appreciate your prompt response on my query. Will study your recommended books. Thanks once again.

        1. Post

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