Home Blog Kali Linux vs. Parrot OS: Which is Better?

Kali Linux vs. Parrot OS: Which is Better?

September 08, 2021
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Hacking has become a pervasive issue in today's society; high-profile ransomware and malware attacks are happening regularly, and the effects are often widespread and devastating. With a rapidly-changing landscape and hackers constantly finding new ways to exploit digital weaknesses, it’s crucial that cybersecurity professionals stay vigilant. One surefire way to stay ahead of cybercriminals is to understand and use new hacking tools as soon as they become available.

Although there are dozens of tools and softwares on the market, Linux and Parrot Security OS stand out as two of the best hacking platforms available today. Read on for a deep dive into the benefits and features of these two platforms and how you can use them in your cybersecurity career.

Parrot Security OS vs Kali Linux in Ethical Hacking

Although it is the lesser-known of the three major operating systems, with Windows and Mac OSX being more widely used for commercial business, Linux has a key role in security testing.1 Due to the open-source nature of Linux, developers can create customized systems and purpose-built tools specifically for hacking—both criminal and ethical. There are now multiple versions of Linux available for a range of different applications, with Kali Linux and Parrot Security OS as two of the most popular Linux hacking systems.2

Both Kali Linux and Parrot OS are Debian-based distributions, meaning they are built upon the popular open-source Debian version of Linux. Adopted by thousands of professional cybersecurity firms and criminal hackers every year, both platforms come pre-installed with all the basic hacking tools, plus digital forensics devices that companies use to conduct penetration testing (or pen testing).

While Kali and Parrot support 32-bit and 64-bit architecture and feature a wealth of pen testing tools, some key elements differentiate the two. Most notably, Parrot OS uses fewer resources and includes a few additional anonymity and encryption tools.3 Let’s walk through the main components of each one.

Kali Linux

When comparing Parrot to Kali, Kali is quite resource-heavy, requiring 1GB of RAM, a 1Gz dual-core CPU, 20GB hard disk space, and a graphics card. Kali uses the simplified GNOME desktop interface and doesn't come with any pre-installed compilers or integrated development environments (IDEs).4


  • Full customization of Kali ISOs – highly flexible, heavily integrated with live-build
  • Live USB Boot – boot from USB without interference
  • Kali Undercover – blends in with familiar operating systems
  • Win-Kex – ability to use Kali on Windows
  • Kali NetHunter – for Android phone use
  • Kali Everywhere – for use on cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, Docker, VMware and more)
  • Kali ARM – for use on ARM devices (Raspberry Pi, Ondroid, Beaglebone, etc.)5

Pen Testing Capability

Kali has over 600 tools for wireless access, web applications, vulnerability analysis, information gathering, exploits, stress tests, forensics, sniffing, spoofing, and reverse engineering. It has become synonymous with hacking and is now considered one of the best pen testing platforms available for experienced hackers.

The fact that it's free, highly customizable, available on a variety of desktop and mobile devices, and has one of the most active communities makes Kali the global leader in pen testing.6

Hacking Tools

These are some of Kali's most commonly used pen testing tools:7

  • Namp, Nessus, and SQLmap – can gather information about networks and find weak points of access
  • BeEF (Browser Exploitation Framework) – assesses the security of a web browser while Lynis does security audits and compliance to detect vulnerabilities
  • KingPhisher and Social Engineering Toolkit (SET) – helps find potential phishing attack loopholes

Parrot OS

Parrot OS is a more lightweight, but more updated, version of Kali Linux. It shines over Kali in its extra features, which are strategically designed for the modern hacking environment. The additions, such as Wifiphisher (for cloud pen testing) and AnonSurf (for easy anonymity) show Parrot’s purposeful evolution. It uses slightly fewer resources, with no graphical acceleration needed and only 320MB of RAM. Like Kali, it also requires a 1GHz dual-core CPU, but only 16GB of hard disk space.8

The Parrot OS user interface, based on Ubuntu MATE, is easier to use and comes pre-installed with several compilers and IDEs. This makes Parrot OS a more user-friendly platform; that being said, more old-school or experienced hackers still seem to prefer the raw nature of Kali versus Parrot.


  • Anonymity tools – includes TOR (The Onion Routers), I2P, Anonsurf, and Zulu Crypt
  • Forensics Mode – ability to boot to a machine without interfering with existing hardware
  • Encryption Tools – includes TrueCrypt and Zulu Mount GPA
  • Sandboxed (non-root) environment – provides a more secure space for users8

Pen Testing Capability

Since Parrot OS comes with all the features of Kali Linux plus a few extras, one would naturally assume that its pen testing capabilities are better. This may be true in some cases, but many cybersecurity professionals still prefer the traditional, time-tested Kali environment.

The added anonymity and encryption tools make Parrot OS a better tool for hacking but don't necessarily improve its pen testing capabilities. Still, it remains a top-quality pen testing platform that’s sure to meet your needs.

Hacking Tools

Parrot OS includes all the Kali tools plus several others:9

  • TOR and AnonSurf – anonymous tools for networking and peer-to-peer (P2P) communication
  • Nikto, Metasploit and EtherApe – network analysis, pen testing, and exploitation tools to identify security loopholes in web servers
  • Ricochet and GPA (GNU Privacy Assistant) – messaging and file encryption tools
  • Kayak – a vehicle security pen testing tool

So, Which One to Choose?

Ultimately, the platform that you choose to work with depends on your goals, preferences, time frame, and availability of resources. Although Kali Linux has all the essential tools for ethical hacking and pen testing, it requires more RAM, doesn’t come with pre-installed compilers or IDEs, and can often lag. On the other hand, while Parrot has many advanced features and requires less resources, it doesn’t necessarily enhance its pen testing—and Kali remains popular in the hacking community for a reason.

Learn Tools, Technologies & More at Yeshiva Katz

In today’s cyber world, simply knowing how to use ethical hacking tools isn’t enough. At the Katz School of Science and Health, our comprehensive curriculum for an online Master of Science (MS) in Cybersecurity includes up-to-the-minute protocols and procedures with a focus on professionalism and ethics. We’ll train you to be a thoughtful operator, decision-maker, and contributor to any team or company you join, leading you to a successful and fulfilling career in cybersecurity.

  1. Retrieved on August 20, 2021, from zdnet.com/article/windows-mac-or-linux-we-compare-the-pros-and-cons-of-these-computing-platforms/
  2. Retrieved on August 20, 2021, from resources.infosecinstitute.com/topic/linux-for-ethical-hackers-101/
  3. Retrieved on August 20, 2021, from jigsawacademy.com/blogs/cyber-security/parrot-os-vs-kali/
  4. Retrieved on August 20, 2021, from linuxconfig.org/kali-linux-system-requirements
  5. Retrieved on August 20, 2021, from kali.org/features/
  6. Retrieved on August 20, 2021, from csoonline.com/article/3528191/kali-linux-explained-a-pentester-s-toolkit.html
  7. Retrieved on August 20, 2021, from itsfoss.com/best-kali-linux-tools/
  8. Retrieved on August 20, 2021, from linuxhint.com/parrot_security_os_review/
  9. Retrieved on August 20, 2021, from linuxhint.com/parrot_os_tools_top_20/