How to run Kali linux on Android phone using PC emulator and kali mini ISO image

Being a kali linux user, this very topic caught my eye when I read the tweet by Nicolas Ibrahim saying that he was able to install kali linux on his android phone using limbo PC emulator, unrooted. So I looked on the web to find if there is any write up about the same and having found nothing elaborate and useful, I accomplished it myself and here it is, the detailed walk-through for your perusal. Have fun folks!

Before we begin, let me give you a heads up, this is a time consuming process.

The very first step to this project is to have an Android phone running OS 4.1 +, although I have read that android 2.1+ is sufficient, I have used a Samsung Note 3 with the latest kitkat OS. It does not need to be rooted. Yes you heard me right, not root required.

Moving on, we have to remember that the majority of the android phones available now in the market are not 64 bit supportive they are all meant for 32 bit OS. hence, the OS needs to be 32 bit. period.

We begin by downloading the appropriate ISO image from the official kali linux website which you can find here- please make sure you download the 32 bit version which states Kali Linux 1.0.6 32 Bit Mini ISO as shown below-

kaliNext, we need a PC emulator for Android and we choose to install the limbo PC emulator, it is interesting to note that it has been removed from Google play store so you will have to search for other alternatives like sourceforge. Once downloaded and installed on your mobile device, you are ready for the real deal.

Run the Limbo PC emulator on your mobile device, and configure it with the following parameters as shown in the figures below-



Make sure that the mini ISO image of Kali linux is saved/copied onto the Mobile device. And point the ISO image under CDROM option.


You will also need to allocate space for hard disk, this will be a collective figure and it will be split  into swap and primary storage later. Select the Network configuration to be “User” to use the default card/settings on the mobile device. Set Boot from device to be default so post installation, it will automatically boot from the hard disk.

Screenshot_2014-05-23-17-54-21No changes to the Advanced configuration.



“Start” the emulator and you will see the installation window



The easiest way to proceed would be the auto install but, I suggest manual install.




Screenshot_2014-05-23-18-18-22Sometimes it could be an issue with finding the right mirror for the download but, trial and error always wins. (For latest mirror links refer official Kali website)



But in most cases, with the auto install, it will find the nearest available mirror and download the packages.

Packages being downloaded

Setting up the root account


Installation continues..



starting up the partitioner..

Guided partitioning..



Auto allocation of disk space, it allots swap and ext automatically but, you can manually change that as well.


Writing the partitions



Quick glance at the installer menu…



Almost there..



Congrats you now have kali linux on your android phone.

A couple of things to note:

1. You might face issues with installing additional software packages but, don’t be perturbed, remember you can skip them and install them individually post installation.

2. Once installation is completed, if the machine does not automatically boot, go to your machine in limbo PC emulator and point the boot device to Hard disk.

3. If you face boot loader issues, you can skip it and manually fix it at a later stage

4. For additional troubleshooting, try to tweak the CPU settings, allocated RAM, etc.


75 thoughts on “How to run Kali linux on Android phone using PC emulator and kali mini ISO image

    • Limbo does not need any root permissions and the path for HDD A will usually point to the *.qcow2 file in a sub folder in the primary limbo directory. Looks like this storage/emulated/0/limbo/machines/foldername/*.qcow2

    • Qmobile Noir A30 has 256MB RAM and a robust processor, yes you can install it however, performance will be an issue so make sure you reserve ample space for SWAP.
      Yes you can also install kali linux on a PC with 512MB RAM provided it is atleast an i386 processor.

  1. I have Full iso of kali linux, ” kali-linux-1.0-i386.iso”
    I follwed the instructions, started emulation.
    Then it gives a notification about save/load state, immediately after that it says VM shut down and nothing happens!
    Plz plz plz plz help me! I want to use kali linux on my phone!

    • First, it only seems to work with the 32-bit mini ISO; not the full ISO. The mini ISO is about 24MB compared to the 3Gig full version. Secondly, you need to free up more space on RAM; I used 380MB. Finally, if you get that unexpected error “VM shut down”, just reboot your android device and try: I used to get that error too and thats how I used to do it.

      • Thank you for the fast reply.
        If i allocate more ram there is the same error. But i dont have the 32x mini ISO because it not available to download any more. (or i dont find it) Can this cause the error? If yes, is there a way to download the Kali Linux 32x mini ISO?

    • Same error, i dont have the mini iso too and it dont work with the normal iso i think. @theinfosecguru can you upload or send a url to download the mini iso please? this would be really really nice (for us and the next who visit this blog) 🙂

    • i solved that prob…
      but now when i click install or expert install ,,,, it just shows blank screen for infinity ….

      plzzz.. help me sir…

  2. Sir, when I click on start key next page opens for inastallation of linux but when I. Click on install button blank page appears and mobile is karbonn titanium s9…

  3. please help for bad archive mirror
    when i follow up the instruction which you provided then it showing bad mirror archive and continue. What should I have do to escape out from this problem.
    please help for that.

  4. Is there an app that you can download from the play store that allows you to bring up an on screen keyboard? Or do I have to use an external bluetooth keyboard?

  5. Hi please can you help me?? I have installed linux on my Galaxy S5, but once i start the virtual machine, it just keeps saying “booting from hard disk…” and then nothing happens..

  6. Am stuck on choosing the best Debian source… I have tried almost all but I get this error ” The specified Debian archive does not seem to support your architecture…… Is there a single link know to work with most devices?

  7. Helo sir .. trying to installl it on note 3 . Faceing an issue like Vm shutdown just after pressing start..changed the ram size..changed the nemmory size and everything but still same error ..hope you could find a solution

  8. doesn’t work after I boot kali linux (backtrack) and select install… NOTHING HAPPENS…. Please reply fast on how to fix this or on how to install it properly.

    I’m using kali’s latest version (32 bit mini iso)

  9. I’ve followed your specifications, however did not name my vm or disk the same.

    I have the latest kali available kali-linux-mini-2.0-i386.iso which I think is the issue, I have plenty of ram, running on a note 2.

    My issue is the installer starts to boot when install is clicked, I get the common black screen with flashing dash, then just a black screen.

  10. I’ve followed your specifications, however did not name my vm or disk the same.I have the latest kali available kali-linux-mini-2.0-i386.iso which I think is the issue, I have plenty of ram, running on a note 2.My issue is the installer starts to boot when install is clicked, I get the common black screen with flashing dash, then just a black screen.

  11. I am a newbie and i tried installing kali on LG optimus.. i don’t see the qcow2 file as you mentioned
    in the HDD A. Can you please help me on this..

  12. Sir i have tried the older one but same here, after install button is clicked a blank screen appears and no results are seen further…. Plz guide me

  13. How much MBs you use for install it, in my country the Internet is limited and slow, can you say me the most ahorrative settings?

  14. if i install this on my vivo v3 max device…will my device OS still be in pc we just simply load multiple OS using VM without having to override our base OS.
    Will i be able open or close like any other app on my phone.
    Or will it work like a live OS and required me to reboot my device every time i need to use my phones default OS

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