I wonder if we are making a subtle mistake in the way we direct users away from Kali. I frequently see comments such as "Kali is for Linux experts" and even "you don't learn to drive by jumping in an F1 car".

I don't have a problem with the intent of these comments. But I don't think we should be suggesting Kali is the pinnacle of Linux distributions ("professional grade"... "like an F1 car"). I think it sends the wrong message entirely.

If I'm blunt about my own opinion:

Kali is broken. It has some shiny tools useful to a few penetration testers. But it is frequently broken right after a fresh install. Its default configuration is/was designed to be hidden on a network, and not easily usable. Unless you have professional grade skills with Linux, it's basically useless. And even when you do posses those skills you will probably never want to use it.

Now with that opinion off my chest... I do feel that telling someone "Kali is for experts, try Debian" sounds like "Kali is for experts, here's the Kiddy version, it's called Debian."

For my part I'm going to be a little more blunt with my opinions in future on this topic. I know that's considered taboo here. As noted in comments, this is to direct people away from Kali when it is not appropriate for the User's task or situation. I'm not suggesting that, as a community, we should try to make everyone stop using it...

... I wonder if we can find a way, as a community, to direct people away from Kali without telling them "Kali is great!" and without requiring such opinionated responses.

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    I'll just ask here: is your intention (with this Meta post) to change the distribution(s) that people use? Or how to handle such questions here at U&L?
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Mar 16, 2020 at 11:41
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    Kali Linux may possibly be for experts, but it's primarily for penetration testing (whether by experts or not). Users of Kali Linux should be (made) aware of the distribution's emphasis as a tool for penetration testing and that it's not a general purpose Linux distribution. Talking about "for experts" or "for non-experts" is slightly irrelevant and introduces a unhelpful distinction between users rather than between tools.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Mar 16, 2020 at 12:11
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    @JeffSchaller I'm not seeking to stop people using Kali with this post. I do occasionally point individual users to other distributions where I feel Kali isn't what they need. I'd like to discuss here the moments when the community would already be directing a user to try a different distribution. My difficulty is I have a low view of Kali (obvious enough). I'm looking for a more diplomatic way to offer advice. Every time I draft a diplomatic response it ends up implying the exact opposite of my opinion. I'm seeking to offer good advice without appearing trollish. Mar 16, 2020 at 12:46
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    The phrase "I wonder if we can find a way, as a community, to direct people away from Kali " in this question is what prompted my concern. I don't see SE as a vehicle for changing people's behavior; it's a Q&A platform. If you can write an answer to a question, do that. Otherwise, my request is that we guide questions through the normal process of clarification, voting, and (optionally) answering.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Mar 16, 2020 at 12:51
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    @JeffSchaller ah I see. Perhaps that phrase needed clarification or a better description of context. I guess the context should have been limited to apparent XY problems. "I'm having trouble using Kali as my main desktop" might be a made-up example. "I'm having trouble setting up Kali is my first Linux learning environment" might be another. There are times when the opinion "I believe you've picked the wrong tool for the job" is an appropriate response. Mar 16, 2020 at 12:59

2 Answers 2


There are times when the opinion "I believe you've picked the wrong tool for the job" is an appropriate response.

You have answered your own question. This does not imply that Kali is either zenith or nadir. Nor does it imply anything about the questioner. And it is in the same vein as saying to use printf instead of echo -e, or saying to use command -v/type instead of which, or saying that not everything is a sed/awk problem, or saying not to begin with van Smoorenburg rc scripts when starting a service definition from scratch on a systemd/upstart/runit/nosh operating system, or one of the many other wrong-tool-for-the-job cases that happen.

General notes for the several sides of the issue:

  • Don't conflate more specialized (for penetration testers) with more advanced/more functional.
  • Don't attempt to systematically direct people away from Kali on general principles, as that led, the last time that people tried it, to the sort of abuses discussed at Systematically closing Kali questions .
  • Don't treat this WWW site as a one-to-one personal helpdesk, where you are entitled to the help of complete strangers volunteering their efforts whose telepathy is on the blink today. Questions&Answers are supposed to be useful to other people, in the future. And Questions are supposed to be answerable, objectively, in a way that can be determined as right or wrong.
  • Don't put answers into question comments.

Much more at Why are Kali questions hated so much? and the rest, of course.


While opinions are free, comments are temporary and are meant to improve the post they're attached to. Saying "don't do the thing you're doing" isn't the most helpful advice. My advice would be to angle the comments towards something like:

"Kali users are expected to have a high level of knowledge; here's what's missing from your post that we need in order to answer it: (1) the output of x, (2) the model of your (y), (3) etc".

... and then cast a vote-to-close if you feel it's warranted. Let the Stack Exchange process (ask, clarify, close or answer) work as intended. Adding opinions in comments doesn't drive the process forward.

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