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Thread: Proper portable Kali installation for BIOS and UEFI systems

  1. #1
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    Proper portable Kali installation for BIOS and UEFI systems

    I'm quite new to Linux in general and I have encountered an issue with Kali installation.

    I've come across bits of info while searching but I haven't been able to answer my own question. Can Kali be installed so that it is portable like WindowsToGo?

    Here's what I'm trying to do:
    • Install Kali on an external hard drive (NOT live CD).
    • Be able to boot from the external HDD on any BIOS or UEFI system without altering the systems' boot partition, table, etc. (leave the system untouched).
    • Be able to update Kali without losing settings and bootability.

    This is what I'm using for an external HDD:

    This is what I've done so far:
    Basically, I create a blank VHD on the iODD device for the Kali installation. Then, I copy the Kali ISO to the iODD (the iODD emulates a DVD-ROM). Next, reboot the system and boot from the Kali ISO on the iODD. Run the Kali installer and install to the VHD...

    The problem that I encounter is that the Kali install edits the host system's EFI so it screws up booting to Windows on the internal drive.

    I did come across this post ( and these two pages (, but my attempts have failed.

    Is it possible to install Kali on a USB SSD and use on older systems with BIOS, newer systems with UEFI and what about systems with Secure Boot?
    Last edited by jeffshead; 2019-07-03 at 15:07.

  2. #2
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    If you are installing kali from a UEFI PC then the Installer will automatically Install kali in UEFI mode. In UEFI mode, installer stores grub bootloader in EFI partition of the non-removable drive. There can only be one EFI partition in a system recognised by UEFI through UUID.

    Even if you are installing kali on a removable drive, the installer will still install grub in the EFI partition of your non-removable drive.

    But you can create a FAT 32 250MB partition on your external hard drive and manually install grub there.

    Once you boot Kali, enter

    grub-install /dev/sdb

    /dev/sdb is most likely the name of your external hard drive.
    Use fdisk -l to know the name.

    When you are on someone else's PC, just go to boot menu options and select Boot From EFI File. In some PCs there won't be such option so you have to go to their boot settings and add an entry of Grub to boot menu options. Then only Grub will show up in boot menu options.

    Note that, this portability will only work as long as you are booting your external hard drive in UEFI mode that is you can only do UEFI to UEFI. This is not possible in legacy BIOS because BIOS recognise only one active partition set with boot flag.

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