Kali Linux vs. Ubuntu- Comparison

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the computer or even the electronics community, then you’ve come across the word Linux. What is it? If we search about it on the internet, it turns out it’s an open-source and extremely adaptable operating system. But sadly, this is the end of the simple explanations and the start of the confusing bits. You can read this blog,

Linux is further divided into different versions known as distributions, or distros for short.

They are like modified offshoots of Linux and are customized for specific functionality.

The two most notable examples of these distros are Kali Linux and Ubuntu. Let’s take a deeper look into the differences between the two, the advantages of using one over the other, and the types of situations each one is suitable for.

We’ve compared multiple times these distros, such as Ubuntu vs Debian and fedora vs Ubuntu, for example.

Key differences:

Here are the key differences between Kali Linux and Ubuntu in a brief table form:

Kali LinuxUbuntu

It is developed by Offensive Security.

It is developed by Canonical.

The architectural core of Kali Linux is the Linux Kernel.

Its architecture is based on the custom Ubuntu Architecture.

It runs in a GNOME environment. 

It uses the Unity environment.

The main purpose of Kali Linux is security and penetration testing.

It is more geared towards everyday home/work use and in servers.

It provides basic mobile support.

The mobile support from Ubuntu is much more robust. It can even be used as a complete replacement for Android. 

It isn’t very user-friendly and focuses on functionality over aesthetics and user interface.

Ubuntu is designed from the ground up to be extremely user and beginner-friendly and has an excellent GUI.

It has no bloatware, making it perform super well.

It is also extremely fast and snappy compared to other operating systems but lacks a little behind Kali Linux.

The target users for Kali Linux are digital security experts and ethical hackers.

Ubuntu has no target audience, as it is designed for anyone and everyone.

Detailed comparison:

The above-mentioned table does a fairly decent job of pointing out the key differences between the two polar opposites of the Linux ecosystem. But the story is much deeper and more detailed than what fits in a simple comparison table. Here are a few of the main distinguishing factors:

Features and advantages:

Both Kali Linux and Ubuntu are filled to the brim with useful features, a lot of which are exclusive to their respective Linux distro.

Kali Linux:

  • It is completely free, not just right now, but it always will be.
  • It provides more than 600 pre-built testing and penetration tools. These tools allow digital security experts around the globe to test networks and databases without having to craft a custom test from scratch.
  • The open-source nature of Kali Linux allows the entire code to be publicly available. This makes the code even more secure than it already is, as more eyes on the code directly equal to more vulnerabilities being found. On top of that, anyone can take the base source code and tweak it to perfectly fit their specific use case.
  • The world is moving away from pesky, tangled wires and into the land of wireless freedom, and the latest developments in Kali Linux are indicative of that. It supports hundreds of wireless devices, including various USB-based ones as well.
  • It has the universal Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS), allowing anyone with the knowledge of Linux filesystem to easily locate files, libraries, and binaries.
  • If a tool is supposed to hack/penetrate something, then it should be secure itself. The Kali team understands this completely; thus, extreme care is given to the development security and repository management.
  • One of the main things that make it such a global tool is its language customization. No matter what language a certain tool was first made in, you can easily convert it into your local language and take advantage of the tool without any hindrance.
  • Linux is an extremely customizable operating system, and Kali Linux carries that tradition forward. Users can change and tweak everything from the surface level looks to the kernel itself.
  • ARM-based processors, especially ARM-based single-boards, are becoming more and more famous with every passing day. That’s why Kali Linux fully supports these systems and offers full functionality, so you can utilize the tools available on it without having to build a full-fledged PC.


  • It includes all the important hardware drivers with it. This makes setting up your PC uber-fast. You don’t have to go to the website of each hardware device’s manufacturer and download drivers individually. It also eliminates the hours spent finding and installing drivers after a fresh OS installation.
  • It offers software repositories with thousands of consumer and professional software. No need to search around on the internet, visit many sites and download sketchy .exe files. All the necessary software is available in one centralized location for the user’s convenience.
  • Working on more than one project at the same time can get extremely messy and convoluted pretty quickly. Ubuntu eliminates this issue by allowing multiple desktops at once. You can switch between these desktops like browser tabs and organize your workflow effortlessly.
  • It offers some of the best security and threat protection among all the other operating systems. There is no need to purchase and install resource-hoggin third-party antivirus software. Its built-in virus protection matches, if not exceed, the capabilities of these third-party premium virus protection systems.
  • Updating the OS is a pain for most other operating systems, especially Windows. You get interrupted during work, and you can’t do anything while the update downloads, and after suffering all that, a restart is required to complete the update. That’s not the case with Ubuntu. It offers complete background updates that don’t require restarts to complete.
  • One of the most underrated features of Ubuntu is the option to run it without installation. You can load it up on a high-capacity USB drive, and your entire operating system, along with your files, will work on any computer that supports booting from a USB.

Which one is better for beginners?

The answer to this question is clearly Ubuntu. Kali Linux is a bit more advanced and cruder for someone new to Linux or even computers in general. Ubuntu, on the other hand, offers a highly intuitive GUI that is easy to understand for anyone. Combine this with the fact that it is completely free, and you’ve got yourself an OS that is perfect for newcomers to learn about PCs and their functionality.

Which one is better for hacking?

While it is possible to download and utilize some penetration and hacking tools on Ubuntu, it stands no chance against Kali Linux. The whole reason behind its existence is network penetration and hacking. It is also more secure and offers more robust tools.

Which one is better for creative work and development?

Creative work and Ubuntu go hand in hand. There is a lot of free creative software available for it that rivals professional premium software on platforms like Windows. Development is the same story, as a lot of tools that are required for development are easily accessible on Ubuntu.


The reason for this comparison is not to prove that one is overall better than the other because that’s not the case. Both Kali Linux and Ubuntu have expertly crafted Linux distros, with a very distinct use case in mind. While Kali Linux focuses more on security testing, Ubuntu favors a set of features that are geared more toward a regular PC user, not an ethical hacker. Both have their place in the Linux ecosystem. At the end of the day, you should choose the system that best fits your requirements and preferences.

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