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BackTrack Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve just installed BackTrack, what is the root password ?

The ubiquity installer uses the username "root" and “toor” password by default.

We also recommend you change this as soon as you have rebooted and verified everything is working properly. You can do this by issuing the following command and following the prompts.

passwd root

Why does my keyboard stop working when I try to type the password ?

It doesn't, your keyboard is still working.

When you type your password in BackTrack, nothing is shown on the screen. This is a security measure to prevent someone from "shoulder surfing" and being able to see how long your password is, thereby making it more difficult for someone who knows you to guess your password.

How do I start the GUI environment ?

After booting from DVD/USB or after logging in on a HDD install, type the following command


Is BackTrack free for download?

Yes, and it always will be.

Do you offer a 64bit or gnome versions of BackTrack?

Yes we now offer 64bit and 32bit ISO's, as well as support for ARM based mobile devices. Both 32bit and 64bit version come with either Gnome or KDE. You can also use Fluxbox as your WM.

Which version should I download ?

We recommend that you download BackTrack 5. We no longer support any other versions.

I’ve just burned my iso and it will not boot ?

The 3 most common problems are the md5sum is wrong, the program you used to burn the .iso file or cheap media. Please check these three things before asking for help.

I use Windows and I do not want to mess it up?

Backtrack can be run as a live dvd environment which will not affect your Windows install in any way. If you run the installer and install to hard disk you are responsible for partitioning your drive properly and selecting the correct drive or partition. Guides on installation methods can be found on the Installation page.

Please remember that incorrect selections can completely wipe your hard drive and potentially leave you without your original Windows/Linux installations !

Consider this as your only warning !

I’ve heard its stupid to run as root ?

Many of the tools in Backtrack need root access to run. Backtrack is a specialized penetration testing distribution. We trust our users know the security risks of running as the root user.

Whats the “perfect” laptop to run backtrack on?

Every one’s version of perfect is different. There is no perfect computer. Please check the forums where users post their thoughts on models of computers.

Please remember to add yours to the list too

Where is the Backtrack manual ?

There is no manual. We do write official documentation on how to install Backtrack and how to use some of the more exotic tools, however, we do not write guides on hacking in general. We have a forum community and a wiki which both contain many user and dev team submitted tutorials. Please also remember to check the manual section of the website for more info on official documentation.

Do you offer any kind of official training ?

Check our Offensive Security Training website for the only official BackTrack Training.

Where can I find out more information about BackTrack ?

Keep updated with our blog, check our forums and check for BackTrack Fixes here.

Why cant I just add the Backtrack repositories to my Ubuntu install or the Ubuntu repositories to my Backtrack install ?

We highly recommend against this action because Backtrack tools are built with many custom features, libraries and kernel. We have no way of knowing how they will perform on a non Backtrack distribution, plus you will very quickly break your install.

Also if you chose to add the ubuntu repositories to your Backtrack install, you will most certainly break your entire Backtrack install very quickly.

We do a lot of testing to ensure that all packages in our repo will work together without causing problems.

If you decide on this course of action you do so entirely at your own risk and the backtrack team will not offer any support in any way.

I want/need to rebuild the kernel, can you help me ?

Firstly it is very unlikely that you actually have a need to do this. Secondly if you need help in rebuilding the kernel, then you probably shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

We do a lot of testing to ensure that all of the packages in our repo work with the kernel we supply and by using your own kernel we have no way of knowing what compatibility will break. We do not support this and will offer no help to those who choose to go ahead and rebuild the kernel.

Sorry but if you still feel you want/need to rebuild the kernel for whatever reason, you are on your own. We do not support this and will offer no help or answer questions from those who choose to go ahead and rebuild the kernel.

Why don’t my network cards show up when I boot ?

BackTrack is a penetration testing distribution and as such DHCP requests etc entering the network when you boot are usually very undesirable. You can easily enable networking by issuing the following command:

/etc/init.d/networking start

Why cant BackTrack use wireless card “X” inside VMWare or Virtualbox ?

Any virtualisation software can only use USB wireless network cards as physical devices, all other types of wireless card are seen as virtual ethernet devices and can only be seen as a wireless device by the host and not by the guest operating system. So if you want to run BackTrack in VMWare or Virtualbox and have full wireless capabilities, make sure you are using a USB device.

Why don’t you provide a USB image like you did with previous versions ?

Previous versions required sometimes quite complicated methods to install to a USB stick, so for convenience we provided special images for easy installation. With the latest editions of BackTrack we have eliminated this need as it can easily be installed to a USB stick with tools such as Unetbootin or via manual methods as described in the Installation section of this site.

How do I contact you ?

To be honest, in the majority of cases you really don't need to.

Firstly consider this, we each get hundreds of emails and Private Messages both on the forums and in our IRC channel every day. Almost all of these messages are from people asking simple questions that are either covered in this wiki, FAQ or on the forum itself. Almost every single one of those is a question that should be asked on the forum as it is either covered there, or the question and it's subsequent answer would be of benefit to the entire community rather than just the person asking it. Think of it this way, if you are asking this question, wouldn't it make sense that somebody else may have the same question or may have already asked it. The forum and wiki are valuable sources of information, and that information is only as good as the questions asked and the answers given.

Secondly, all of the team are volunteers, none of us are paid to work on the project and all of us have lives, family, work etc etc outside of BackTrack. We all give our free time to the project and the more of that which is taken up answering these questions is less time we have to work on making BackTrack even better than it is.

So in short, if your question falls into the description above, then it's in your interest not to email or send a Private Message. It will most likely just get ignored if it does fall into this category.

However, if there is a something not covered by the above, then by all means do contact us.

You can find all of the dev team in our IRC channel (remember we don't live there all the time), in the forums or contact details on the About page of the website.

Where is the IRC channel you are talking about ?

If you would like to join the community and contribute, visit us on irc.freenode.net, in channel #backtrack-linux. Our website will continue to be the main source for all news and updates regarding BackTrack. Be sure to see our channel rules read the channel topic and remember that you need to be registered to speak.

Important: root ( *root*@* ) is banned by default on this channel, so please ensure you configure your irc client appropriately.

I'm new to linux, is BackTrack a good place to start ?

Sorry, the simple answer to that is no.

BackTrack is a highly specialized distro, where a lot of normal tasks are not done automatically for you as they are in a mainstream distro.

Our best advice if you wish to start off using linux with BackTrack as your first linux operating system, is don't.

Start off by downloading a copy of Kubuntu (as it is a similar base operating system to BackTrack) boot into that and force yourself to do everything you are used to doing on a daily basis using that, preferably spending most of your time using the command line tools. When and only when you can perform all of those daily tasks without having to look-up the commands should you move to BackTrack.

Please don't take this as us saying you shouldn't use BackTrack, take it as friendly advice that you are letting yourself in for a whole world of pain and frustration if you are not fully comfortable performing administration of your own linux machine before you start with Backtrack.

I have just downloaded and installed the latest version of Backtrack, do i still need to update ?

Although you have downloaded the latest release of the iso or VM, this does not mean you will have the latest packages we provide. BackTrack is developed and updated on a continual basis, and for this reason you should still update your installation at regular intervals to keep yourself up to date with the latest packages, bugfixes and new tools.

When and how often do you update the BackTrack repo with new packages ?

Generally the BackTrack repo is updated with the weeks new packages late on a Sunday night so that they are available to you on Monday morning.

There are times however when we feel that a package needs to be released straight away rather than waiting until the next scheduled Sunday repo update. So in these cases the repo update can happen at any time, day or night during the week.

Please note that while the repo is being sync'd, it will be unavailable for downloading packages. This process doesn't take long so it will be rare for this to cause any of you more than a very short period of unavailability.

How do I update Backtrack with the new packages ?

First make sure that you have an internet connection, then use the following commands

root@bt:~# apt-get update
root@bt:~# apt-get upgrade

Optionally you can run

root@bt:~# apt-get update
root@bt:~# apt-get dist-upgrade

Where can I find a complete list of all the tools installed in BackTrack ?

No such resource currently exists, however you can see a list of all packages installed on your BackTrack system by running:

dpkg --list

Please remember that this will list all of the packages installed on BackTrack and not just the tools

You can also search the repository for a particular package of interest by running the following command:

apt-cache search <keyword of interest>