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Install Kali Linux in a VMware ESXi Virtual Machine

vmware logo Kali Linux logo

There are many compatible devices under Kali Linux as we can see on the download page :

Curiously there is no native ESXi prebuild image. Indeed, in the Virtual Machines part there is a VMware Kali Linux image but it is for VMware Workstation product which is not natively compatible with the VMware ESXi product.

I will detail here a method to import the VMware Workstation image to an VMware ESXi host.

Download Kali Linux

The first thing to do is to connect to the official download page :

  • Then click on Virtual Machines :
Kali Linux | Official Website > Download Page
  • Choose your download method (Torrent or direct download) :
Kali Linux | Official Website > Download Virtual Machines page
  • Once downloaded you should have an 7zip archive file :
Kali Linux | kali-linux-2022.2-vmware-amd64.7z file
  • Extract files, here for example, from a GNU/Linux shell (this command extract files to a KALI folder) :
user@host:~$ mkdir KALI && 7z e ./kali-linux-2022.2-vmware-amd64.7z -o./KALI/

Import Kali Linux Virtual Machine to VMware ESXi

Import to ESXi host

Note : Connect to your ESXi web page and accept the https web certificate first (otherwise upload from vcsa won't work).
  • Go to datastore menu, select storage where you want to store the Kali Linux Virtual Machine and click to «UPLOAD FOLDER» link :
VMware | upload folder to a datastore from vcsa
  • Once uploaded, open KALI folder, select Kali-Linux-2022.2-vmware-amd64.vmx file and click to «REGISTER VM» link :
VMware | Resgsister a new virtual machine from vcsa
  • From main menu do a right click to Kali-Linux-2022.2-vmware-amd64 Virtual Machine and Upgrade VM Compatibility :
VMware | Upgrade VM Compatibility menu

Enable SSH and convert vmdk disk

  • From vcsa web console go to Configure > Services and start ssh service :
VMware | start ssh server from vcsa web page
  • Connect to ESXi host via ssh :
user@host:~$ ssh root@ESXi_IP
  • List datastores :
[root@localhost:~] df -h Filesystem Size Used Available Use% Mounted on VMFS-6 465.0G 286.4G 178.6G 62% /vmfs/volumes/500G VMFS-L 119.8G 3.9G 115.9G 3% /vmfs/volumes/OSDATA-0269c4cb-fe6feb41-f534-d4be32a1d43e vfat 4.0G 203.8M 3.8G 5% /vmfs/volumes/BOOTBANK1 vfat 4.0G 64.0K 4.0G 0% /vmfs/volumes/BOOTBANK2
  • Move to the KALI directory :
[root@localhost:~] cd /vmfs/volumes/500G/KALI
  • Rename vmdk file :
[root@localhost:~] mv Kali-Linux-2022.2-vmware-amd64.vmdk OLD.vmdk
  • Convert vmdk file :
[root@localhost:~] vmkfstools -i OLD.vmdk Kali-Linux-2022.2-vmware-amd64.vmdk
  • You should now be able to start the Kali Linux Virtual Machine, don't forget the default login / password : kali / kali 🙂
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