Came curious on which operating system hackers use. Browsing the internet, found a discussion that says "Kali Linux is not used by hacktivists."

Does anybody know which operating systems are the most frequently used by hacktivists?

I'm not trying to be a hacker. I'm just curious about that topic.

  • 2
    We are extremely friendly. Note: hackers != hacktivists and neither are formal criteria. Are you just curious about usage numbers in general for pentest distros?
    – Jedi
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 5:19
  • Also note that Kali Linux is basically Debian with pre-installed packages. There are tons of OS's based off Debian/Ubuntu where the same setup can be easily achieved not including other Linux based distros. So if the discussion is possibly pointing at another Linux distro or isolating Kali from the rest of the Linux world I would not take that discussion seriously as they don't seem to have a grasp of OSes in general.
    – Bacon Brad
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 5:53
  • 2
    This question is a little like asking, "what cars do getaway drivers use?" What they might use at home for personal use might be completely different than what they use to accomplish their task. Advanced hackers use all OSes.
    – schroeder
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 7:45
  • No matter what OS you are using, you should know how to think like a hacker, and you should be familiar with system architectures to be a successful hacker. Crackers are those who need one specific OS to achieve their goal, hackers would be able to get their work done via anything. BTW, Kali is not only for hackers, its main purpose is to provide means for security specialists. Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 11:14

2 Answers 2


Just like any regular computer users, hackers uses whatever OS they're comfortable with and that does the job. More likely though, hackers are familiar with multiple operating systems.

Kali's main audience is pentesters, not hacktivism. Some people calls pentesters as white hat hackers, since pentester are employed by the owner of the system they're finding security holes in. Pentesters generally don't need to worry about being discovered or "caught", since they have the permission of the system owner.

Hacktivism though, by its nature is adversarial, so it's black hat hacker or gray hat at best, because they're doing their activity for a (usually political) agenda. Black hat hackers are more concerned about covering their tracks.

It's not true though, to say that there aren't any hackers using Kali.

  • Though I disagree with the question, this is the best answer OP. use whatever gets the job done. For me, the fact that I don't want to spend time having to install a tool when I need it is a selling point.
    – thel3l
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 5:49
  • Might be worth mentioning that hacking is not always dependent on the operating system. For example, SQL injection can be done on Windows, Linux, OSX, etc. Sometimes not requiring special tools and can be done through a regular web browser.
    – Bacon Brad
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 5:59
  • @MatheusCirillo the downvotes are for questions that do not show research effort, or are unclear / not useful. SE is not a forum for broad questions / opinion-based answers. A non-opinion-based version of your question could, ask about specific statistics or properties of these operating systems.
    – Jedi
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 20:12

Not sure what you would consider as "used by hackers". If were to limit ourselves to the assumption that hackers only used security-centered OSes, and we were to trust the sparse data provided by distro watchers (like this or this), a reasonable ordering would be:

  1. Kali
  2. Knoppix
  3. BlackArch
  4. BackBox
  5. Parrot
  6. Pentoo
  7. NST

Between 2-5, there is not much to choose from; the differences based on the data provided are neither consistent, nor statistically significant.

What is clear is that Kali (formerly Backtrack) is the most popular offensive Linux security distribution. However, defensive / privacy minded distros are even more popular than Kali (e.g. Tails), at least based on the sources that I linked to.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .