BlackArch: for penetration tests

BlackArch is a new Arch based distro with a philosophy similar to Kali Linux. It provides powerful utilities for penetration tests and research on security.


  • Available in 32-bit and 64-bit flavours
  • Compatible with existing Arch Linux installations
  • 1176 tools at the time of writing
  • Install tools in groups or individually
  • Multiple desktop environments: Fluxbox, Openbox, Awesome, spectrwm, LXDM


You can install packages from repos, install using network or get the ISO. Various ways to get a taste of BlackArch are explained here.

To try the live ISO, visit downloads section. The live ISO comes with an installer (blackarch-install). You can use the installer to install BlackArch to your hard disk.

Webpage: BlackArch

Qubes OS: designed to be secure

Qubes OS adds to the list of Linux based security oriented desktop computing distros like Whonix and Tails. While most of the other distros concentrate on hardening the system, Qubes OS is designed to provide strong security using security by isolation approach.

Qubes is based on Xen, the X Window System and Linux. The desktop environment is KDE. It can run many Linux applications as well as use Linux drivers. The second release (in Sep 2014) of the distro surfaced 2 years after the first one. The upcoming release 3 will introduce Hypervisor Abstraction Layer (HAL), allowing easy porting to alternative virtualization systems.

Qubes OS architecture

As you might have guessed from the mention of Xen, Qubes uses virtualization technology to separate applications running in the userspace from each other. It can also sandbox many system level components like the storage and networking subsystems. Qubes users can define security domains, which in Qubes terminology are called AppVMs. These are very lightweight compartments and can be based on use cases like APPVMs for personal stuff, work, banking shopping etc. The applications in the AppVMs run isolated and copy-pasting is supported between AppVMs. The same applicaiton can run simultaneously under different AppVMs as well. In release 2, Qubes users can use Windows based AppVMs, which is a beta feature.

A quick peek into the key architectural features in Qubes OS:

  • Based on a secure bare-metal hypervisor (Xen)
  • Networking code sand-boxed in an unprivileged VM (using IOMMU/VT-d)
  • USB stacks and drivers sand-boxed in an unprivileged VM (experimental at the time of writing)
  • No networking code in the privileged domain (dom0)
  • All user applications run in “AppVMs,” lightweight VMs based on Linux
  • Centralized updates of all AppVMs based on the same template
  • Qubes GUI virtualization presents applications as if they were running locally
  • Qubes GUI provides isolation between apps sharing the same desktop
  • Secure system boot based (optional)

Qubes OS is distributed as a 64-bit DVD-sized ISO.

Webpage: Qubes OS

Xiaopan OS: another hacker distro

xiaopan_compXiaopan OS is another hacker distro packed with advanced tools to perform all types of wireless network hacks. Currently version 5.0 is cooking and the developers are looking for feature requests if you are looking for anything specific that may add value to the OS. Xiaopan OS is based on Tiny Core Linux. The small ISO can be booted from a VM or installed on a USB. Features at a glance:

  • Run in Parallels Desktop / VMware / VirtualBox
  • Compatible with Yumi Boot / LiLi USB Creator
  • Run on Live CD
  • Packages include: Minidwep, Aircrack, Inflator, Reaver, Feeding Bottle, Wifite
  • 70mb ISO
  • Based on TinyCore Linux
  • Recommended minimum requirements: Pentium 2 or better, 128mb of ram + some swap
  • Recommended: Wireless USB card that supports monitor mode and injection
  • Windows / Linux / Mac Compatible

Note: As per the info alert in the Xiaopan forums, using the promo code XIAOPAN during checkout will save you around $99 when you buy a powerful Reaver Pro device (worth $199) which can detect WiFi vulnerabilities very fast. Not sure how long the promo code will be valid.

Webpage: Xiaopan OS

[Courtesy: Jester Raiin]

Antivirus Live CD: cleans all operating systems

antivirus_compAntivirus Live CD is a Linux based (to be more precise a 4MLinux fork) distro that comes with the ClamAV scanner. Recently it has released a “DB” version which has the latest signatures and hence can be used offline without connecting to the internet. The distro supports all major filesystems including the Linux ones, FAT, NTFS etc. and hence can be used to clean a Windows volume too. It can be installed on a USB using the UNetbootin utility which works both on Linux and Windows. So the next time you suspect you got a virus, try the distro for free to nuke it!

Webpage: Antivirus Live CD