UPDATE: The question is now here on meta: Why is Kali Linux so hard to set up? Why won't people help me?

As the regulars will know, there seem to be many people out there who think that Kali is a good way of starting with Linux. As a result, we get quite a few questions from newbies trying, and failing, to do basic things with Kali. The community is understandably tired of these since it's sort of like having someone trying to learn how to drive and getting a Formula 1 car to practice in.

The Why is Kali Linux so hard to set up? Why won't people help me? post was created to be a dupe target that we can use when people who are obviously out of their depth come here and ask for help using Kali while they are clearly newbie Linux users and have no business using Kali in the first place.

I've long felt that we've been abusing the Why is Kali Hard question (WKHQ). It is being used to close pretty much any question that mentions Kali. This has been discussed a few times already:

In the vast majority of cases, the questions have other problems. Most often, they are either unclear or too broad. Well, we can close them for that reason then. The original intent of the WKHQ was to give users an explanation of why they shouldn't be using Kali. And that is a laudable goal. However, closing a question as a duplicate suggests that the question will have an answer in the dupe. The WKHQ provides no answer to any technical issue, it only explains what Kali is for. It is a great answer to link to, but not a good dupe target. And it was never supposed to be a catch-all for Kali questions:

Note that I do not propose systematically closing Kali questions! Each question should be judged on its merit.

But a catch-all is what it has become. I think Michael Homer put it very well in his answer:

At best, it's a helpful see-also, and not a duplicate; at worst, it's just people getting off on the superiority they feel from belittling people they think are beneath them.

My comment under that answer currently has 6 upvotes:

@slm I am becoming more and more convinced that we should close the "Kali is hard" question so it can no longer be used as a dupe target. It was a good idea, but I agree 100% with Michael that it is being abused. –

So, after seeing yet another (bad, but not duplicate) question getting a close vote as duplicate of the WKHQ, I made an executive decision and closed the WKHQ which, I hope, will encourage people to stop using it as a dupe target. Instead, I left this comment under the question (the link goes to the WKHQ):

Please note that Kali is a tool designed for experts. It is not a normal operating system and should not be used as one. The error you are getting is quite clear: you don't have easy_install. But if you don't know how to correct that, I would strongly urge you to use a different operating system.

I am posting here first to let everyone know what I did and why, and to give the community a chance to voice their disagreement (or support), and also to open a discussion about how to proceed. If we really, really feel so strongly against Kali questions, then maybe we should make it off topic. But I don't see how we could justify that: Kali is most certainly a *nix system. We could perhaps make only "expert" level questions on topic but then who would be the judge of what constitutes an expert question?

I instead suggest that we treat Kali questions like any other on topic question. We close when the question is unclear, but because it is unclear. We close when it is too broad but because it is too broad. We can leave comments pointing the OP to the WKHQ, as a way of explaining why Kali might not be the best choice for them, but unless there's a clear consensus to the contrary, I vote for keeping the WKHQ closed and no longer using it as a catch-all duplicate for bad Kali questions.

  • 15
    Nice work, terdon. Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 15:11
  • 9
    +1; This was a long overdue action.
    – Videonauth
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 15:13
  • 10
    "I made an executive decision and closed the WKHQ so it can no longer server as a dupe target.", well, that won't work actually. Closed questions can still be used as a dupe target (I just tried flagging a question as a dupe of that, but retracted it soon after). As long as the question is there on main, it can be used as a dupe target. The only way to make it unavailable as a dupe target is either to delete it, or migrate it to meta (which looks like impossible due to its age)
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 16:06
  • 2
    @AndrewT. d'oh! You're right. I though that closing meant it wouldn't appear when searched for in the close vote dialog but I was wrong.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 11:45
  • 1
    Why don't you just add a "Moderator note: Do not close other questions as duplicate of this question because ..." to the question? People would not automatically know that they should not do that except by following a "small" link in the comment, and there are some notes like that on SO.
    – user202729
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 6:41
  • @user202729 the main problem is that people already know this question, so they will most likely search for it from within the close vote dialog, where notices aren't seen. Also, we only have a limited list of notices we can add and none of them fits here.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 8:03
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    While many agree with the advice The error you are getting is quite clear: you don't have easy_install. But if you don't know how to correct that, I would strongly urge you to use a different operating system., it still seems a bit dismissive. It would be better if we could actually suggest a specific operating system. The asker would have gotten the same error message on Ubuntu 18.04, and wouldn't have gotten a pointer to which package to install from cnf, because easy_install is no longer in any standard 18.04 package. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 18:11
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    @MarkPlotnick the point is that if you don't know enough to understand that the error is the missing program, then you really shouldn't be using Kali. I agree that it is a little condescending, but I can't think of a non condescending way of saying "you don't know enough to be using this". I'm sure we can do better than my comment, that was just what I managed at the time.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 18:18
  • @terdon Actually, the close vote dialog does display a preview of the question (at least for the close flag dialog it's the case).
    – user202729
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 16:17
  • @user202729 yes, it does, but the notice is usually at the bottom where most users won't see it. More importantly, and as I said before, there is no suitable post notice. The UI only gives us 3 options and none of them would be useful here.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 16:42
  • Kali just needs its own SE site probably, since it seems there's specifics that make it stand out from other distros. Agree with this post, btw Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 4:31
  • @terdon thank you for doing this
    – Sam
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 19:26

5 Answers 5


In retrospect, I agree that the WIKSH thread isn't working out as intended. I do think that the WIKSH thread is useful, but it doesn't work as a duplicate target. It guides people towards solving their problem — by telling them to use a different distribution — but it doesn't answer their actual question: instead, it explains why their question isn't getting answers.

So it should be on meta. It's useful, so it shouldn't be deleted. It could get new useful answers and the existing answers could be improved, so it shouldn't be closed or locked. Even the title of the question is a meta title — “why won't people help me” is a meta question. The content is more main-site content, but it works as a meta answer too.

Moderators can't migrate the question because of an age restriction, but staff can. Please migrate this question to meta.

  • 13
    This seems like an excellent path forward to me.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 23:04
  • I suppose doing so would result in the reopening of the closed-from Q's. That'd be OK; they could be manually reviewed if we wanted to. Leaving them closed as some other default reason would be a broad brush stroke.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 23:15
  • 4
    There is a qualitative difference with kali... depending on how it's installed! If you follow the latest greatest version and do an apt-get upgrade then your system might break. And it'll work again tomorrow after another upgrade. (I have a Kali VM and I've seen that happen). Kali can be the most unstable of distributions. I agree that a meta post to point people to might be better, just so we can tell people "Hey, you may not have made the best choice..." Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 0:41
  • The WIKSH has now been moved to meta. Sorry for the delay, I admit I'd forgotten about this.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 10:39

I have to write an answer because I disagree with how you formatted the main points; let me try:

  • We close when the question is unclear, but because it is unclear.

  • We close when it is too broad but because it is too broad.

I said when the Kali dupe was proposed that:

I think we should treat them just like questions for any other distribution, perhaps with extra warnings in the tag excerpt and wiki. Just a quick reminder that we voted to allow Kali questions as on-topic here (pushed over from Ask Ubuntu), given that they applied the Kali tag. I try to re-tag questions that "forget" to include the tag.

Let's maintain the StackExchange mechanisms for what they're intended to be. How should duplicate questions be handled? says:

Questions asking about the same aspect of the same concept, but with different examples, may or may not be considered duplicates. It depends how easy it is to figure out one example from the other. If it's only a matter of changing some numerical values or some variable names, they're duplicates. If understanding why the questions are at all related requires a detailed explanation, the questions aren't duplicates, merely related.

  • 3
    Yes, exactly. Thanks for laying it out in black and white. I was trying to both explain why I closed and suggest a way to proceed so I might not have been as clear as I intended. This is precisely what I am suggesting, yes.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 15:32
  • For me it is unclear whether too broad/unclear is more useful than pointing to the "why kali" question. Maybe as an alternative solution the tag could point to it. Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 17:29
  • The tag does point to it, @RuiFRibeiro.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 17:56
  • 2
    I think this is the most important point of dealing with Kali questions. Closing them as dupes of "Why is Kali so Hard" is often incorrect. I had an comment-discussion with a new user yesterday re: installing Scratch2.0 on Kali. I did not mark as dupe, but pointed the user to WIKSH and the Kali doco on "Should I use Kali". OP agreed with my suggestion that Kali was not the right OS and voluntarily deleted the question. Other times I want to strangle people, "Yo bro, why can't my Kali VM on windows vista use my built-in wifi!? Linux sucks!" The issue requires constant patience and communication
    – 0xSheepdog
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 17:05

Currently the WIKSH question is linked in the tag info. This isn't visible when asking the question. If something along those lines was also in the excerpt, that might help a bit too.

An other alternative could be to add an info pop-up with a message when users add the tag to a question, similar to how BiologySE and several others have on their identification tags. This could then be used to either point the user to the WIKSH question or at least warn them about the beast they are dealing with.

  • 7
    Yes, the pop-up is an excellent idea.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 14:20

I've had misgivings about the use of this question for a while and feel the need to vent. @terdon thankyou for taking this action and offering a good place to discuss it.

How we answer XY problems

Kali linux questions are an excellent example of common XY problems. The majority of Kali questions we see may try to ask something specific, but the real problem is that new users are using Kali when they shouldn't. The way we give answers to XY questions is critically important.

I've written elsewhere on this subject. In all cases we should make some effort to answer a clear concise narrow question. A big problem with marking duplicate of this is that we cannot tailor the response to the question being asked. To my mind, WIKSH should be used as a warning comment of the form:

Please be aware that Kali questions often receive no good answers. This is discussed here...

This at least makes it clear that we are trying to help.

Excessive use

I've seen too many Kali questions closed which are clear, concise and reproducible. Comments with these duplicates are getting dangerously close to "if you have to ask, you'll never know". This painfully reminds me of "the bad old days" of *nix forums where newbys were regularly shunned for no greater crime than being new. The Linux reputation of being impossible to use for all but a handful of lifeless nerds is a reputation that belongs in the past.

It does take an expert to use Kali Lunux. It does take a Linux expert to know if Linux is behaving normally or truly oddly. By this logic, it does take someone capable of (preferably experienced with) using Kali to know if a question really is a newby error or evidence of something much more involved. Unfortunately I feel a few users have picked up on the trend and are closing Kali questions without any understanding of what is being asked.

Tone of the question title

I have no doubt that this question was written in good faith. The content, both question and answers, is of very high quality. Unfortunately the question title can be taken out of context and misread as a bully pretending to cry. "why won't people help me, why, why... waaaar". I know that wasn't intended. But when combined with comments that have sometimes accompanied duplicate close votes it has sent a very unfriendly message to some new users.

  • 1
    About the title: most people who are new to the site and asking their first question care primarily about getting an answer. That's all they're here for. Considerations like niceness are actually secondary — people think the site is not nice if they don't get an answer, even when people explain in a very friendly way why their question needs to be closed. (It's different when people have become involved on the site as a community, but most Kali questions are from new users.) (cont.) Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 22:04
  • I worded the title that way because for many questions, people get neither the answer they're after nor the answer they need. The point of that thread is: you came here to get an answer, but you aren't getting what you came here for, why is that? What can you take away from this? I'm obviously biased, but I think reading the title as a caricature is very far-fetched. Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 22:06
  • Stand alone it's fine. I'll stress it really is very good content. It's the combination of a comment "you're too incompetent to use Kali... See here" that leads to the misread of the title. It's not just being "nice" it's about structuring a response to the OP that lets them know they are receiving help and advice and not abuse. Very similar topic to XY problem discussion. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 6:11
  • I don't think reading the title as a caricature is remotely far-fetched. I do think perception of the title will be coloured by the body for those who've read it already, but "Why won't people help me?" is clearly plaintive in exactly the way Philip suggests and not really defensible, all the same. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 7:02
  • But, I can also see how someone who doesn't read it that way would have a drastically different impression of the question, one more driven by the answers, which mostly give good advice. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 7:14
  • @MichaelHomer You seem to be reading the title from the perspective of someone who is familiar with the topic. That's not its intended audience. The intended audience is people who have just asked a question, aren't getting the answer they're looking for, and aren't happy about that. “Why won't people help me” is what's going through their mind. That's why I used this title, and not something like “why shouldn't I use Kali Linux” which is not at all what the target audience is concerned about. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 10:58
  • 1
    The people who have just asked a question have, several distinct times now, reported exactly the feeling from it that Philip describes, and I'm not willing to invalidate their experience. Of course, that has been made worse by generally having been told that what they asked is the same as that, which was indisputably an act of bullying, but it's a pretty defensible reading of the title and of "Help! Why won't people help me? Why is Linux so hard?" as well. It may not have been what you meant but, well, death of the author and all that. Commented Apr 19, 2019 at 21:09
  • It is beyond me why non-SE employees still indulge in the fantasy all/most of the low rep users are new users. Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 19:52

IMO, that the problem isn't that Kali Linux isn't for beginners, but the temptation to close Kali questions as dupes for the sake of closing.

From my observations, many SE communities have a tendency to close questions when there's a reason to, even if the question should probably not be closed. I once asked a question on Ask Ubuntu about a general issue on an EOL release, and the AU community quickly closed my question for that reason (EOL). I ended up asking a moderator in chat and he reopened my question.

That says, the existence of this WKHQ gives people the temptation to close K questions as dupe to that one. Imagine the following scenario:

  • apt-get some index files failed to download on Ubuntu (outcome: answered or closed as dupe as another one with a working solution on Ubuntu/Debian)
  • apt-get some index files failed to download on Fedora (outcome: closed as whatever reason)
  • apt-get some index files failed to download on Kali (outcome: closed as dupe of the WKHQ)

While it makes its own sense, it's not all that friendly and productive.

And to sum up, I'm all in for closing the WKHQ. Maybe lock it for historical significance as well?

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