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Creating a

Bootable, Persisting
Kali Linux Live OS on
WD MyPassport SSD from
Windows 10 OS
Date: 2019.01.01
By Corey Habbas

This paper “​Creating a Bootable, Persisting Kali Linux Live OS on WD MyPassport SSD from
Windows 10 OS​” is meant to be a tutorial of the start-to-finish process of using the Live Persistent
option for running a Kali Linux distribution on an external SSD hard drive. A live version of Linux that
is bootable from an external device without actually having to be installed. It is a flexible and
non-intrusive way to run a Linux distribution. Furthermore, you can take your external drive from
machine to machine and run it without always toting around the same laptop or computer with you
wherever you go. Lastly, configuring Kali Linux Live with persistence means you can reboot your Live
OS without losing your preferences, saved files and configuration settings.

** ​Disclaimer​: If you have an external SSD, the best option is to perform a full install on the drive rather than a
live persistent ISO. The exercise of using a live persistent install is so that users know that this is an option if
they are having issues with a full install, they are trying things out, or they have a specific benefit realized by
using a live persistent image. For guidance on creating a full install on an external drive please reference my
paper “​Creating Full Install of Kali Linux OS on WD MyPassport SSD from Windows 10 OS​”.

Overview 1

Obtain Tools and Downloads 2

Validating Kali Linux File Checksum 3

Partitioning SSD Drive for Kali from Windows 10 3

Writing a Live, Bootable Kali Linux Image to WD My Passport SSD from Windows 10 7

Formatting for Kali Linux Persistence on Your External SSD 9

Configuring Persistence 12

Troubleshooting 15

Obtain Tools and Downloads
Western Digital My Passport SSD
I picked this 512 GB Solid State Drive up
from a local electronics store. This comes
with a USB-C connector with USB-A
adapter. I used this with my USB 3.0 port
on my system, which achieved ​5gbps 
speeds, and much faster than the slow 
USB 2.0 ports on my old laptop. If you 
have a choice between doing this on a 
system with USB 2 vs USB 3, you will 
end up saving a lot of time with your 
USB 3 ports.

Kali Linux ISO
In order to create a persistent live Kali Linux image onto the above drive you will need to
choose which iso disk image (after the ISO9660 Universal Disk Format standard) to

I have a motherboard that runs a 64bit processor so I downloaded the 64 bit image from the
following link:

There is a list of many possible iso images. I avoided the “Light” there are only a
small selection of tools. If you want all of the tools, then you will want to download the full
and not the light version.

The file I am using for this tutorial is: kali-linux-2018.4-amd64_20181225.iso

Disk Partitioning Tool
After trying out a few other partitioning tools, I eventually turned to the free version of
EaseUS Partition Master 13.0. We will be using this to format the drive and then partition it
so that we can create persistence.

EaseUS Partition Master: ​

Disk Imaging Tool
The disk imaging tool will write a boot image with the iso file (not copy paste of the iso file)
onto the device.

Win32 Disk Imager: ​

Validating Kali Linux File Checksum
We want to verify the file integrity and authenticity of the iso that we downloaded.
Copy the value from the site and save it off in a file on your system.

Sha256sum: ​7c65d6a319448efe4ee1be5b5a93d48ef30687d4e3f507896b46b9c2226a0ed0

Open Windows Powershell ISE on your Windows computer and run:

Get-FileHash -Algorithm sha256 “[folder path and file of the iso file that you downloaded]”

Hash from download site:

Hash output from Windows powershell get-FileHash function:

The should be the same otherwise there is a problem with the authenticity or integrity of the
file. If you want to be ultra-certain you can compare what you get from the checksum from
the site and your powershell output by pasting each value in a separate file and comparing
them in Winmerge.

Partitioning SSD Drive for Kali from Windows 10
Attach the SSD drive to your Windows system via the USB 3 port if possible.

It will look something like this:

1) Open Free EaseUS Partition Wizard
2) If you are starting from scratch you will likely see only one disk block. Right click on
the area that corresponds to the unallocated space in the below screenshot to the
right of Disk 1 and select Create.

Partition Label​: linux
Drive Letter​: E:
File System​: FAT32
Create on​: Primary
Check the option if this is an SSD​: Check

3) Click OK and then click Finish

4) In order to commit the actions, you will need to click on the “Execute 1 Operation” in the
left upper ribbon of the program.

5) Verify that the drive and volume label that you created are there (yours may be a different
drive letter), but do not open it. The following show that for some reason the drive letter
assigned wsa D. We will have to make a correction.

If you are noticing that the drive letter was assigned as D instead of E, you will need to
change the drive letter and click “Execute 1 Operation” again. This happened to me. I didn’t
fix this until the end and the SSD would not boot, likely due to a drive conflict with the CD
ROM drive.

The following image shows me correcting the drive letter.

Writing a Live, Bootable Kali Linux Image to WD
My Passport SSD from Windows 10
1) Close the partitioning program and open Win32 Disk Imager
2) Click the folder icon to the right of the Image File text field

2) Navigate to the location where you saved your ISO file of Kali Linux, select the ISO, then
click Open

3) Click Write

Formatting for Kali Linux Persistence on Your
External SSD
1) Open EaseUS Partition Master Free Edition. You will notice that the imaging tool
created partitions when writing the boot image.
2) Now, create a partition in the unallocated space by right clicking and selecting

Partition Label: persistence
File System: Ext3
Create as: Primary
Check the option if this is an SSD: Checked

3) Click OK

4) Click on “Execute 1 Operation”

What the SSD looks like in EaseUS Partition Master Free Edition

Configuring Persistence
Now that the “persistence” partition exists it now must be configured.

1) Restart your machine and enter the BIOS.(F2, F8, etc. depending on your
2) Order your boot options to boot from the USB ports first
3) Save and Exit

Note​: If the above doesn’t work, you can attempt to load the Boot Options menu of
you BIOS. On my machine,entry into the BIOS was F2 and entry into the Boot
Options menu was F11.

BIOS Boot Device Priority Configuration
Bios > Boot > Boot Device Priority

Sample of What the Boot Options Menu Looks like

4) Restart, wait for the Kali Linux Boot Menu to display, and select the Live Boot option with

5) Find and confirm the device path by opening a terminal window and type the following
command. You will need the device path in order to create the temporary mount point.

lsblk -f


Note​: From either of the above commands you will be able to verify which device path
corresponds to the “persistence” partition. Mine was /dev/sdb3

6) Type the following commands to create the mount:
mkdir -p /mnt/linux
mount /dev/[your persistence partition] /mnt/linux/
echo "/ union" > /mnt/linux/persistence.conf
umount /dev/[your persistence partition]

My actual commands:
mkdir -p /mnt/linux
mount /dev/sdb3 /mnt/linux/
echo "/ union" > /mnt/linux/persistence.conf
umount /dev/sdb3

7) Reboot your instance (you can enter reboot at the terminal) and select the Kali Live
(Persistence) option, or you can shutdown from the graphical interface.

8) Test your persistence by changing the desktop background and or configuring the
wireless connection.

9) Reboot and verify that those changes persisted

10) Check for this message at boot time in the rolling text before entering graphic mode

“A start job is running for LSB: thin init script”

A volume of issues can arise when creating a bootable external Kali Linux Live drive with
persistence. Here are some of the most common issues:

● Formatting issues - This can happen when you select the wrong file system type
option when formatting (exFAT, NTFS, etc) The initial volume must be formatted
● Drive recognition
● Partitioning errors
● Mounting errors
● Partial booting though not reaching graphical menu
● A start job is running for LSB: thin initscript

The following tools can be useful during installing Kali Linux. Users may enjoy some tools
over others. Here are some that I have used:

Tool Name Link

EaseUS Partition Master ​


MiniTool Partition Wizard

Win32 Disk Imager

Kali Linux

Debian Forums