Kali Linux 2021.4 Comes with Updated Desktop Environments

With this release, the Kali Linux Team introduces a bunch of new features. Here's what's new!

Kali Linux is a Debian-based Linux distribution designed for cybersecurity professionals and ethical hackers to perform penetration testing and security audits. It is sponsored by a US company called Offensive Security, who do information security training and penetration testing.

Kali Linux is a rolling release, which means that updates are released constantly, including feature updates. Nevertheless, there is also a quarterly release, which are a good moment to catch up on what is new in Kali.

The latest 2021.4 release brings some significant feature additions and improvements onboard. Let us check them out.

What’s New in Kali Linux 2021.4

The latest Kali Linux release extends compatibility for the Samba client, so it’s now configured for ‘Wide Compatibility’. In other words, now you can connect to pretty much every Samba server out there, regardless of the version of the protocol in use.

If you wonder what is the use of this ‘Wide Compatibility’, this is a way to make easier to discover vulnerable Samba servers out of the box, without having to configure Kali.

This setting can be changed easily via the command-line tool kali-tweaks -> Hardering Settings. In addition, there is also a similar ‘Wide Compatibility’ setting for OpenSSL also.

Kali Linux Tweaks

Without adding new security tools, Kali never launches an update for the new version, and the new Kali Linux 2021.4 update contains 9 of them:

  • Dufflebag – Do searches through public Elastic Block Storage (EBS) snapshots for secrets that may have been accidentally left in.
  • Maryam – Scan web application, networks and complete the information gathering process.
  • Name-That-Hash – Determining the type of hash. The program supports MD5, SHA256 and over 300 other hashes.
  • Proxmark3 – Multi-purpose hardware tool for radio-frequency identification (RFID) security analysis, research and development.
  • Reverse Proxy Grapher – A useful tool that will generate a nice graphviz graph illustrating your reverse proxy flow.
  • S3Scanner – Attempt to get all available information about an open S3 buckets, but it’s up to you to interpret the results.
  • Spraykatz – The tool is able to retrieve credentials on Windows machines and large Active Directory environments.
  • truffleHog – Runs behind the scenes to scan your environment for secrets like private keys and credentials, so you can protect your data before a breach occurs.
  • Web of trust grapher (wotmate) – Reimplement the defunct PGP pathfinder without needing anything other than your own keyring.

On the desktop side, Kali Linux 2021.4 brings updates for Xfce, GNOME, and KDE.

In Xfce the panel layout has been tweaked to optimize horizontal space and make room for 2 new widgets: the CPU usage widget and the VPN IP widget. Default number of workspaces was increased to 4 as well a shortcut to PowerShell has been added to the terminals dropdown menu.

If you prefer GNOME over Xfce, we have good news for you! As you probably know, it’s been one year since the last major update of the GNOME (3.38) desktop in Kali. Now, Kali Linux 2021.4 introduces the latest and greatest GNOME 41!

Of course, all themes and extensions have been updated to support the new GNOME Shell 41.

Kali Linux 2021.4 GNOME Desktop

As we informed you earlier, the new KDE Plasma 5.23 release offers users a more beautiful Plasma desktop and immersive experience for its 25th Anniversary. Well, this update is now available in Kali! It brings a new design for the Breeze theme, which improves the look of Plasma with details that add glossiness and style to the desktop.

Kali Linux 2021.4 KDE Plasma Desktop

Moreover, Kali Linux 2021.4 brings new unified window buttons design that is common to all desktop environments. The new design looks elegant on any of the desktops and makes it easier to spot the currently focused window.

Among other things, Kali ARM support has been improved, including for Raspberry Pi images, which now support USB booting out of the box. In addition, Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W support has been added, but like the Raspberry Pi 400, there is no Nexmon support. On top of that, all ARM-based images now use ext4 for their root filesystem, and resize the root filesystem on first boot.

Last but not least, thanks to the Linux kernel 5.14, you can now install the distro on the VMware Fusion Public Tech Preview as the new kernel includes the modules needed for the virtual GPU. Kali’s installer will automatically detect if you are installing on VMware and install the appropriate packages.

For detailed information about all changes in Kali Linux 2021.4, you can refer to the official announcement.

How to Update to the Latest Kali Linux Release

Kali uses the Debian package management system, which allows you to update and upgrade using the apt command. 

Keep in mind that if you already have an existing Kali installation, you can always do a quick update. Just type the commands shown below in your terminal:

echo "deb http://http.kali.org/kali kali-rolling main non-free contrib" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo apt update && sudo apt -y full-upgradeCode language: PHP (php)

Once the update process is complete you should reboot your system in order changes to be applied.

Download Kali Linux 2021.4

If you are planning a new installation, Kali Linux 2021.4 is ready for immediate download from the projetct’s website.

Related: Kali Linux on VirtualBox: A Step-by-Step Installation Guide

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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