In search for the Best Laptops for Kali Linux

Kali Linux is quickly getting traction as de facto penetration testing suite/OS for professionals and hobbyists alike. But obviously, it is not as popular as mainstream Linux distros like Ubuntu, Mint or Debian. That leaves most of pentesters in the dark when searching for the best laptop for Kali Linux. Up until now, Kali forums are filled with year-old suggestions of buying a Lenovo laptop that’s almost as old as you are. And I won’t lie – in some cases, you might aswell get that refurbished Lenovo. But maybe now is the time to get a something new?

Well, I took on the mission of finding the best Kali Linux laptops and it wasn’t pretty. Apparently, checking laptops one-by-one for their WiFi chipsets is not most fun way to spend my free time.

Now, I will skip the whole “do you really need Kali Linux” part and I’ll assume you have all the reasons in the world to install it and to buy a laptop for it.

Ok, let’s go straight to finding the holy grail of penetration testing – the best laptop for Kali Linux.

Requirements for the best Kali Linux laptop

How much power do you need?

To find the best laptop for penetration testing we need to define what exactly it will be used for.

For the most part, any laptop that runs Linux will work. You don’t need anything fancy when it comes to pentesting laptops. In the most basic sense, if Ubuntu can run on a laptop, Kali can run on it too.

Penetration testing

You could use a Kali Live USB with persistence or dual-boot with Windows (or other Linux distro). Most likely, you’ll also need to have a couple of virtual machines (via Oracle Virtual Box, VMware or Parallels). That only requires a basic processor and a bit extra RAM. You don’t need much for capturing, probing and listening. In that case, you might want to steer away from bulky machines and towards lighter ones if your budget allows it.

Cracking hashes

Using GPU cracking is an entirely another subject. In that case, you’ll need a laptop resembling a gaming rig. Then powerful CPU and GPU will come a long way but even then there some serious issues with GPU cracking on a laptop.

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Best Ubuntu Laptop: 9 Top picks for 2017 (April Update)

best-laptop-for-UbuntuI will go straight to the point with this one. Find the best Ubuntu laptop is not easy – even finding a good laptop for Windows can take some time. And when we add compatibility issues and varying degrees of Ubuntu support for 15.xx and 16.xx releases, we can find ourselves crossing fingers hoping that the trackpad and WiFi work out-of-the-box.

On the other hand, Ubuntu is the best Linux distro when it comes to finding a compatible laptop. There are plenty of reviews and guides for the most popular guides. Ubuntu community might not have a well-maintained wiki with recent laptops (as ArchLinux does), but there are a lot more easy step-by-step guides for Ubuntu users.

In this lengthy post, I’ll cover what is important when searching for the best laptop for Ubuntu and what are the common problematic areas. Then, I’ll list out the best Ubuntu laptops with guides: best laptops with Ubuntu pre-installed, best Chromebooks for Ubuntu and the best Windows laptops and MacBooks with good Ubuntu support.

What we should look for in an Ubuntu laptop?

First things first. To find the best Ubuntu laptop, we’ll need to know what we’re looking for and what we should avoid. I’ll break down specs one by one and outline what are our options.


Major Processor

Starting with Kernel 4.3 – found in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Linux supports Skylake graphics which are generally superior to their Broadwell and Haswell counterparts. Therefore, unless you have limitations of a particular Ubuntu version, go for the latest Ubuntu release with newest Kernel and a 6th generation Intel CPU.

Apart from that, judging a mobile processor for Linux is quite straightforward.

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Best Linux Laptop: What are the top options 2017 (April Update)

I think you understand that finding the best Linux laptop is not as easy as finding a laptop for a particular piece of software or a profession.linux-laptop

A mechanical engineer buying a laptop will at least know that the touchpad, audio, and graphics cards will be working. Anything else wouldn’t be acceptable. But this is not the case for Linux laptops. Even in 2017, there are a lot of issues when trying to stuff most Linux distros into a non-certified laptop. And if you’ve got a Windows laptop or a Chromebook – a problem with Linux is a problem you’ll need to solve.

But searching for the perfect out-of-the-box compatibility is an easy way to leave yourself with just a few options on the table. That’s why, I’m going to look for the laptops that are great overall while maintaining sufficient compatibility with Linux (as in, they have guides showing how to fix any or most of the issues that can occur).

In this post, I’ll start off with the basic prep-work: choosing a distro, what hardware we should avoid and what metrics are most important when in search for the best Linux laptop. Finally, I’ll list out some great options: Chromebooks, Windows laptops and workstations

It’s worth to note, as a programmer, I have a bias for a fast processor, a lot of RAM and SSD. That’s why some of the best Linux laptops for me might not match your needs if you will not be using your laptop for work.

Also, even though I have updated this guide in 2017, I haven’t found any guides on Ubuntu 17.04 so, but there’re a few on 16.04 LTS and 16.10.

Pick a distro upfront

First of all, if you already have made you mind on Linux distro – it will be easier to find a compatible laptop suiting your needs.

And if you haven’t – there are a lot of good Linux distros to choose from. Also, if you’re a user of some classic distro, remember that getting a new laptop can be one of the best times to try out a new flavor of Linux. For example, if you’d like to get a Chromebook for Linux, then GalliumOS (subreddit) could be a nice choice. Or maybe this is the time you’ll finally try out Elementary?

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