Live Boot VS Dual Boot

Live Boot VS Dual Boot Comparing Installation of Kali Linux

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Live Boot VS Dual Boot

Live Boot VS Dual Boot

Comparison

Live Boot V/S Dual Boot

Dual boot performs faster than live boot, and has persistence (though live boot with persistence is also available, but that is limited persistence). If you are using live USB, then you have to keep updating the ISO version on the USB frequently (download a new ISO, then write that ISO to the USB). If you have dual boot, then you’ll update Kali the usual way (using apt-get update, upgrade, and dist-upgrade).
I have put this point of comparison first because this is the only point of difference between live boot and dual boot. The two are identical in every other aspect, and from here on, I’ll use live boot to refer to both live boot and dual boot.

Hardware access

In live booting, when you are running Kali, it would be the sole owner of all the resources that the computer offers (except hard disk space which is occupied by Windows, which is not a major concern). Not only that, it will have access to internal wireless card of your machine. We’ll get a better idea of what hardware advantages we are getting by looking at what we don’t get when we are inside Virtual Machine.
When Kali is running from inside a virtual machine, it doesn’t have access to-
  1. Full CPI / GPU power (because processor needs to be shared between the two simultaneously running OSs) – So, this will mean slower cracking (processor intensive task like cracking WPA-2 4-way handshake will suffer here).
  2. No direct access to internal hardware, only bridged access – What this means for you is that you can’t access the internal wireless adapter of your laptop. So, for wireless hacking, you will need to purchase an external wireless adapter if you are working inside a VM. (even if you are live/dual booting, you may need to purchase an external wireless card, because internal wireless cards are weaker, have less driver support, and sometimes don’t support injection, which is needed in many attacks).
So, for wireless hacking, Virtual Machine isn’t the best way to go.

Networking

In live booting, you are a direct part of the local network you are connected to. In virtual booting, your host computer is a part of that network, and you are part of internal network which contains only you, your host, and other guests.
First, let me explain some technical jargon-
  1. Internal network – When you connect to your wifi router, you, along with other connected devices (your iphone, android phone, macbook, PC, etc.) become part of a local network. The internet knows only about your router. Every communication must be sent via the router to the internet, the internet will respond to router, and router will return the response to the appropriate system on the local network.
  2. VMnet – This is an equivalent of internal network, with the guest virtual machines, and the host machine a part of it.
  3. Host machine – The machine on which Vmware/virtualbox is installed, and inside which the virtual machines are running.
  4. Guest machine – The machines inside virtualbox/vmware.
  5. Internal IP – Your IP on the local network
  6. VMnet IP – Your IP on the Virtual network (VMnet) [This is not a standard term, internal and external IPs are standard terms, this I’m using for convenience]
  7. External IP – Your IP on the internet. . Live Boot VS Dual Boot.
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Kali

If any of the machine make a request to the internet, their external IP would be the same. To check this, open your smartphone, and search “Whats my IP on google”. Repeat this from all your other devices connected to the same router. Each one will have the same IP. Internally, all the devices have a different internal IP (the router has an internal IP too, like any other device on the local network).
Similarly, when you send a request from any of the VM guests to a machine outside the VMNet, but inside the local network, you’ll carry the internal IP of your VM host (i.e. the Windows machine). Internally, all the guests have a VMnet IP (the host has one too, and inside the VMnet, behaves like guests).

Let me explain this a bit further with pictures. Live Boot VS Dual Boot.

Live Boot VS Dual Boot

Here, the kali machine is a part of VMNet, and can’t directly contact
the mac machine and android machine. To reach them, it has to go via the Windows machine.
The router doesn’t know about the existence of Kali Machine (or the Windows XP machine).
The path to the internet involves both the host machine, and the router.
Here, Kali is directly a part of the Local network. Here, the router knows about the Kali Machine.
Also, the path to the internet involves only the router.

Live Boot VS Dual Boot

So, what does this mean for us?
  1. If you want to practice penetration testing, VMs can be great. You can have a Windows host, and Kali running as a virtual machine. Alongside, you can have Windows XP running as another guest VM. Now, these are a part of VMNet and directly connected. So, you can easily perform any attacks from Kali to this machine. Live Boot VS Dual Boot.
  2. If you want to do real life pentesting, your target is probably over the internet. In that case, having Kali inside a virtual machine doesn’t help. Firstly, even if you are live booting Kali, you are a part of the local network, and to communicate with your target over the internet, you need to “forward” your requests through the router (this is called port forwarding). This, in itself, can sometimes be a pain in the ass. If you are inside a VM, your path to your target would involve your router, your host machine, and then the Kali Machine. This is quite inconvenient. So, if you want to attack someone over the internet, being in a virtual machine sucks.
In other words, your guest machine (Kali) does not have access to your laptop’s network card. It has bridged access to it. In theory, you can still use most of the functionality of the card, but in practice, it’s a painstakingly hard job. You can, however, add an external card and give it to the Kali guest instead of the windows host, mitigating this problem. Read the food for thought below for more-

Food For Thought

When you are inside a virtual machine, you are using your host to connect to the internet. But that doesn’t have to be the case. You can plug in an external wireless card, and connect to the router directly. That would mean, that you are now a part of VMNet, as well as a part of LAN (your wlan0 card gets allocated an internal IP on the LAN (WLAN), say 192.168.1.5. Now, you don’t need your host for internet access, and as far as the router is concerned, you are a separate computer. So, this does solve the problem that being inside a virtual machine causes. (I’m too lazy to draw a diagram for that, but in this case, the diagram will have Kali as a part of both the internal network dotted box, and the VMnet dotted box. This is exactly equivalent to the condition Windows 8/10 machine in the first diagram. It will also have two IPs, one for VMnet, and one for LAN).

Ease/Risk

Live boot is the easiest to perform, and the least risky.
Virtual machine is a bit harder, but still not risky.
Dual boot is tough, and you run the risk of losing your data/ getting rid of your original OS, etc.
Also, sometimes Dual Booting can be next to impossible. For example, some laptops with Microsoft signature (the 2-in-1, laptop+tablet types usually) addition don’t let you dual boot anything alongside Windows. Live Boot VS Dual Boot.

Forensics

Live booting doesn’t leave behind many traces, other two methods do.

How to find installation guides

For finding guides, keep the following pointers in mind-
  1. Consult multiple resources before doing anything. There are thousands of guides for installing Kali, and there’s no ‘best’ guide.
  2. Make sure to read the official documentation.
  3. Make sure not to limit yourself to just written tutorials, or just YouTube videos. Both has their own advantages and disadvantages.
  4. Consult tutorials for your precise versions of software (how to install Kali Rolling alongside Window 10), not simply Kali alongside Windows. There are only a few minor difference across the various releases, and their install instructions, but when you’re doing it for the first time, these minor differences are important.
  5. Live USB is the easiest, go for it first. Virtual machine is good to practice Penetration Testing.
  6. Even the easiest method, Live USB, isn’t trivial. If you’re a beginner, even that will require some efforts (changing boot order/ choosing USB as boot device, finding a proper software for making bootable USB, etc.). Don’t get discouraged.
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Extra Advice

  • For wireless hacking, don’t even think about anything, go for live boot, it’s a no brainer.
  • To do a penetration test for Virtual machine.
  • When you’re comfortable with Linux, and feel that you can use Kali for usual stuff, only then install Kali alongside Windows. Still, I won’t suggest using Kali as your primary OS.
  • If you love Linux, and love challenges, then install Kali as your primary OS.  I haven’t been able to do it so far, and anyways, skype web works fine).
Hope you learnt a lot. Let me know if you feel that there’s something important worth inclusion that I missed.
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