Adding Persistence to a Kali Linux “Live” USB Drive
Kali Linux “Live” has two options in the default boot menu which enable persistence — the preservation of data on the “Kali Live” USB drive — across reboots of “Kali Live”.
This can be an extremely useful enhancement, and enables you to retain documents, collected testing results, configurations, etc., when running Kali Linux “Live” from the USB drive, even across different systems.
The persistent data is stored in its own partition on the USB drive, which can also be optionally LUKS-encrypted.
To make use of the USB persistence options at boot time, you’ll need to do some additional setup on your “Kali Linux Live” USB drive; this article will show you how.
This guide assumes that you have already created a Kali Linux “Live” USB drive as described in the section on that subject. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you’re working on a Linux-based system.
You’ll need to have root privileges to do this procedure, or the ability to escalate your privileges with the command “sudo su”.
In this example, we assume
you are running as the root useryour USB drive is /dev/sdbyour USB drive has a capacity of at least 8GB — the Kali Linux image takes over 3GB, and for this guide, we’ll be creating a new partition of about 4GB to store our persistent data in.
In this example, we’ll create a new partition to store our persistent data into, starting right above the second Kali Live partition and ending at 7GB, put an ext3 file system onto it, and create a persistence.conf file on the new partition.
First, begin by imaging the latest Kali Linux ISO (currently 2016.2) to your USB drive as described in this article. We’re going to assume that the two partitions created by the imaging are /dev/sdb1 and /dev/sdb2. This can be verified with the command “fdisk -l“.Create and format an additional partition on the USB drive.
First, let’s create the new partition in the empty space above our Kali Live partitions.
read start _ < <(du -bcm kali-linux-2016.2-amd64.iso | tail –1); echo $start
parted /dev/sdb mkpart primary $start $end
The parted command may advise you that it can’t use the exact start values you specified; if so, accept the suggested value instead. If advised that the partition isn’t placed at an optimal location, “ignore” it. When parted completes, the new partition should have been created at /dev/sdb3; again, this can be verified with the command “fdisk -l“.
Next, create an ext3 file system in the partition and label it “persistence”.
mkfs.ext3 -L persistence /dev/sdb3
e2label /dev/sdb3 persistence
Create a mount point, mount the new partition there, and then create the configuration file to enable persistence. Finally, unmount the partition.
mkdir -p /mnt/my_usb
mount /dev/sdb3 /mnt/my_usb
echo “/ union” > /mnt/my_usb/persistence.conf