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Kali Linux 2021.4 Release

With the end of 2021 just around the corner, we are pushing out the last release of the year with Kali Linux 2021.4, which is ready for immediate download or updating.

The summary of the changelog since the 2021.3 release from September 2021 is:


Kali on the Apple M1

As we announced in Kali 2021.1 we supported installing Kali Linux on Parallels on Apple Silicon Macs, well with 2021.4, we now also support it on the VMware Fusion Public Tech Preview thanks to the 5.14 kernel having the modules needed for the virtual GPU used. We also have updated the open-vm-tools package, and Kali’s installer will automatically detect if you are installing under VMware and install the open-vm-tools-desktop package, which should allow you to change the resolution out of the box. As a reminder, this is still a preview from VMware, so there may be some rough edges. There is no extra documentation for this because the installation process is the same as VMWare on 64-bit and 32-bit Intel systems, just using the arm64 ISO.

As a reminder, virtual machines on Apple Silicon are still limited to arm64 architecture only.

Extended Compatibility for the Samba Client

Starting Kali Linux 2021.4, the Samba client is now configured for Wide Compatibility so that it can connect to pretty much every Samba server out there, regardless of the version of the protocol in use. This change should make it easier to discover vulnerable Samba servers “out of the box”, without having to configure Kali.

This setting can be changed easily via the command-line tool kali-tweaks. In the Hardening section, one can choose the value Default instead, which reverts back to Samba’s usual default, and only allow using modern versions of the Samba protocol.

As one can see on this screenshot, there’s also a similar setting for OpenSSL. You might want to refer to the 2021.3 release announcement for more details on this setting.

Easy Package Manager Mirror Configuration

By default, when a Kali system is updated, the package manager (APT) downloads packages from a community mirror nearby. But did you know that it’s also possible to configure Kali to get its package from the CloudFlare CDN? To be honest, this is old news. But what’s new is that you can now use kali-tweaks to quickly configure whether APT should use community mirrors or the CloudFlare CDN.

So which one is best, community mirrors or CloudFlare CDN? There’s no good answer. The time that it actually takes to update Kali can vary greatly and depends on many factors, including the speed of your Internet connection, your location, and even the time of day, if ever you live in a place where Internet traffic jam occurs at rush hour. The point is: if ever Kali updates are slow, the best you can do is to try to switch from community mirrors to CloudFlare CDN, or the other way round, and find what works best for you. And with kali-tweaks, it’s never been easier!

Kaboxer Theme Support

With the latest update of Kaboxer tools no longer look out of place, as it brings support for window themes and icon themes (placed respectively inside /usr/share/themes and /usr/share/icons). This allows the program to properly integrate with the rest of the desktop and avoids the usage of ugly fallback themes.

Here is a comparison of how zenmap (zenmap-kbx package) looks with the default Kali Dark theme, compared to the old appearance:

New Tools in Kali

It would not be a Kali release if there were not any new tools added! A quick run down of what’s been added (to the network repositories):

Desktop & Theme Enhancement

This release brings updates for all the 3 main desktops (Xfce, GNOME, and KDE), but one that is common to all of them is the new window buttons design. Previous buttons were designed to fit the window theme of Xfce but did not work well with the other desktops and lacked personality. The new design looks elegant on any of the desktops and makes it easier to spot the currently focused window.

Xfce

The panel layout has been tweaked to optimize horizontal space and make room for 2 new widgets: the CPU usage widget and the VPN IP widget, which remains hidden unless a VPN connection is established.

Following the steps of other desktops, the task manager has been configured to “icons only”, which, with the slight increase in the panel’s height, makes the overall look cleaner and improves multitasking in smaller displays.

The workspaces overview has been configured to the “Buttons” appearance, as the previous configuration “Miniature view” was too wide and a bit confusing for some users. Now that each workspace button takes less space in the panel, we have increased the default number of workspaces to 4, as it’s a usual arrangement in Linux desktops.

To finish with the modifications, a shortcut to PowerShell has been added to the terminals dropdown menu. With this addition, you can now choose between the regular terminal, root terminal, and PowerShell.

If you prefer the previous configuration for any of the widgets, you can modify or remove them by pressing Ctrl + Right-Click over it.

In addition to the Xfce design tweaks, In the image above, we can also observe the new customized prompt for PowerShell (in the two-line mode). Same as for zsh and bash, it includes an alternative one-line prompt that can be configured with kali-tweaks.

Bonus Tips For Virtual Desktops!

GNOME 41

In this update, GNOME desktop has received not one, but two version bumps. It’s been one year since the last major update of the GNOME desktop in Kali (with GNOME 3.38) and since then there have been two releases of the desktop environment:

All themes and extensions have been updated to support the new shell:

KDE 5.23

The KDE team celebrated its 25th anniversary releasing the update 5.23 of the Plasma desktop. This update, now available in Kali, brings a new design for the Breeze theme, which improves the look of Plasma with details that add glossiness and style to the desktop. Along with the theme improvements, the System Settings (Under Global Theme > Colors) brings a new option to pick the desktop accent color.

From Kali’s side, the new window theme for KDE is now based on the source code of the breeze theme instead of using the Aurorae theme engine. This fixes previous issues with window scaling for HiDPI displays.

How to Upgrade Your Kali Theme

With these theme changes, you may not get them if you upgrade Kali. This is because the theme settings are copied to your home folder when your user is first created. When you upgrade Kali, it is upgrading the operating system, so upgrading does not alter personal files (just system files). As a result, in order to get these theme tweaks, you need to either:

kali@kali:~$ mv ~/.config/xfce4{,-$(date +%Y.%m.%d-%H.%M.%S)}
kali@kali:~$
kali@kali:~$ cp -rbi /etc/skel/. ~/
kali@kali:~$
kali@kali:~$ xfce4-session-logout --reboot --fast

Kali NetHunter Updates

Thanks to the amazing work of @yesimxev, we have a new addition to the NetHunter app: The Social-Engineer Toolkit!

This release features the first module from SET: the Spear Phishing Email Attack, with many more to come - watch this space…

Now you can use the Kali NetHunter app to customise your own Facebook, Messenger, or Twitter direct message email notifications for your social engineering attacks: