Adding Kali To Asus Tinkerboard

Hello reader,

One of our beloved gadgets is an SBC by Asus called the Tinker Board. It has 2 Gb Ram and a nice little quad core processor. It generally runs a Debian variant that is available on the website, and after some tinkering I decided to try it as a Kali Linux platform. Kali Linux is a security oriented distribution of Linux based on Debian, so much of what is needed is already there. $65 hacking platform? Yes we can.


Available here: Of course to use this you’ll need to enable github by opening a terminal and typing

sudo apt-get install git
Git installs very quickly, however Kali as we’re installing it does not, in fact after adding katoolin I highly advise that you add the repositories, and not the tools because to get the full Kali we’ll close the terminal and reopen it to type
sudo apt-get install kali-linux-all
to get the full toolset. Katoolin fails to get a few things on this platform so this method of doing a cli install of Kali is better.

sudo su
Then add password
sudo git clone && cp katoolin/ /usr/bin/katoolin
chmod +x /usr/bin/katoolin &&
sudo katoolin

(select add repos)
back to cli

sudo apt-get install kali-linux-all

(brew coffee and watch a movie on another device)
add menu or xfce4
add menu if it isn’t there via katoolin

Things to consider

The size of the distro after the 3 hours it takes to add everything is considerably larger than what you want on an 8Gb SD card. Also the performance of video and browsers might suffer a bit until tweaked as this takes a bite out of the snappiness of the Debian you started with. But if you absolutely want the Kali experience on Tinker Board it can be done easily enough. You won’t be using the gnome version, but can add xfce4 or leave it lxde. I tried it with xfce4 below and added the wallpaper.

Adding xfce4

Obviously this can slow it down a bit more so at your own risk

sudo apt-get install xfce4-goodies
after which reboot and start an xfce session, if it doesn’t want to start the first time try adding the
sudo apt-get xfce4
as well and chances are it will fire right up. To add Kali’s menu you can reopen Katoolin and add it that way.


Obviously as the Debian performance is wonderful before doing this, some of that performance can probably be recovered. I disabled my compositor on xfce but there was only slight improvement, I suspect this will be simply a good first step for anyone trying to have a fast Kali on this device. Possibilities to improve performance could include faster SD cards, Usb drives as Harddrives,  Overclocking, and different drivers perhaps. Overall the fact that it works inclines me to try to make a nice openbox session for the tools Crunchbang style.  This tool “as is” would function well enough as is for preliminary vulnerability assessments, field tests, and educational purposes.

*Subsequent testing showed increased performance including video playback improvement, this was after powering off the device entirely and coming back to it. Day 2 on the device saw upgrades, and some minor video playback improvements. Ultimately I’ll suggest this would be of significant value for anyone running it from usb or external hard drive vs sd card.

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About @AlwaysInTao 52 Articles
Author of 20 books and over 1000 articles, programmer in 8+ languages, website and software developer, Linux administrator. Certified ethical hacker

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