I am trying to download Virtualbox on my Kali Linux and I would like know which Debian my Kali Linux is based off of. I'm not finding uname -a or cat /etc/*-release useful in this pursuit. I'm trying to install a version of Oracle's VirtualBox which only ships for specific Debian releases. Which one should I use?


5 Answers 5


Most of the command above reflect Kali attributes,to get the original forked debian distribution you may use :

cat /proc/version

Will show Kali along with forked debian

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Kali and Debian

Kali has detailed this in their blog post "Kali's Relationship With Debian".

The Kali Linux distribution is based on Debian Testing. Therefore, most of the Kali packages are imported, as-is, from the Debian repositories. In some cases, newer packages may be imported from Debian Unstable or Debian Experimental, either to improve user experience, or to incorporate needed bug fixes.

Debian Testing is a rolling development release.

Debian testing is the current development state of the next stable Debian distribution. It is also made available under the code name of the next stable release, Bullseye is the current testing codename.

So in short, they're not based on A Debian Release. Like Ubuntu and many others, Kali does source their packages from Debian.

Don't create a FrankenDebian

What you're wanting to do is what we call making a "FrankenDebian". Because Debian Testing is rolling any version of it will be different from any released or frozen version of Debian. So the question amounts to more or less,

At the time I'm doing this what release of Debian is closest to the release that Kali took when they froze Debian Testing.

That's going to be very contemporary,

  • if Kali sourced testing after Debian froze testing and made a release then Kali may have a newer version than any released version of Debian.
  • if Kali sourced testing before Debian froze testing and made a release then they're going to likely have an older version of said things.

This is will not be good for you either way.

A way out with Containers

A better idea is to simply use Debian Stable (which Oracle supports) and run Kali in a container. You can find information on the Kali site about using their Docker or LXC/LXD images.


Per Kali Linux release notes:

So, what’s new in Kali 2.0? There’s a new 4.0 kernel, now based on Debian Jessie


From Kali Linux Official Documentation:

The Kali Linux distribution is based on Debian Wheezy.

But, as noted, Kali 2.0's new 4.0 kernel is based on Debian Jessie.

From your results of uname -a, you have Kali Linux 2.0 with a kernel version of 4.0.0, hence your kali is based on Debian Jessie.

  • Where can I look this up ? thank you btw fast replay Feb 18, 2016 at 2:28
  • No problem. You can follow the links provided on this page for more information. In particular, you can look at kali linux 2.0 released for Kali 2.0, which is what you have.
    – assefamaru
    Feb 18, 2016 at 4:47

Many distros support the Linux Standard Base conformant distros support the lsb_release command:

lsb_release --codename

Even without the lsb_command one can often find

cat /etc/*-release

and grepping for VERSION.

  • As per the updated question, this only reveals the Kali version, and not which Debian release it's based on.
    – tripleee
    Jun 16, 2017 at 7:24

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