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BackTrack 5 R1.png
BackTrack 5 R3
DeveloperMati Aharoni, Devon Kearns, Offensive Security[1]
OS familyUnix-like
Working stateSuperseded by Kali Linux
Source modelOpen source
Latest release5 R3 / August 13, 2012; 6 years ago (2012-08-13)
Platformsi386 (x86), AMD64 (x86-64), ARM
Kernel typeMonolithic
Default user interfaceBash, KDE Plasma Desktop, Fluxbox,[2][3] GNOME

BackTrack was a Linux distribution that focused on security, based on the Knoppix Linux distribution aimed at digital forensics and penetration testing use.[4] In March 2013, the Offensive Security team rebuilt BackTrack around the Debian distribution and released it under the name Kali Linux.[5]


The BackTrack distribution originated from the merger of two formerly competing distributions which focused on penetration testing:

  • WHAX: a Slax-based Linux distribution developed by Mati Aharoni, a security consultant. Earlier versions of WHAX were called Whoppix[6] and were based on Knoppix.
  • Auditor Security Collection: a Live CD based on Knoppix developed by Max Moser which included over 300 tools organized in a user-friendly hierarchy.

On January 9th, 2010, BackTrack 4 improved hardware support, and added official FluxBox support[7]. The overlap with Auditor and WHAX in purpose and in collection of tools partly led to the merger. The overlap was done based on Ubuntu Lucid LTS starting from BackTrack 5.[8]


BackTrack provided users with easy access to a comprehensive and large collection of security-related tools ranging from port scanners to Security Audit. Support for Live CD and Live USB functionality allowed users to boot BackTrack directly from portable media without requiring installation, though permanent installation to hard disk and network was also an option.

BackTrack included many well known security tools including:

BackTrack arranged tools into 12 categories:

  • Information gathering
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Exploitation tools
  • Privilege escalation
  • Maintaining access
  • Reverse engineering
  • RFID tools
  • Stress testing
  • Forensics
  • Reporting tools
  • Services
  • Miscellaneous


Date Release
May 26, 2006 First release of Backtrack v.1.0
March 6, 2007 BackTrack 2 final released.
June 19, 2008 BackTrack 3 final released.
January 9, 2010 BackTrack 4 final release. (Linux kernel
May 8, 2010 BackTrack 4 R1 release
November 22, 2010 BackTrack 4 R2 release
May 10, 2011 BackTrack 5 release (Linux kernel 2.6.38)
August 18, 2011 BackTrack 5 R1 release (Linux kernel
March 1, 2012 BackTrack 5 R2 release (Linux kernel 3.2.6)
August 13, 2012 BackTrack 5 R3 release

Whenever a new version of BackTrack was released, older versions would lose their support and service from the BackTrack development team. There are currently no supported versions of BackTrack.[9]


  1. ^ "Developers". Archived from the original on 2010-03-22. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
  2. ^ "HowTo:Install KDE 4.1". Archived from the original on 2009-08-06. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
  3. ^ "BackTrack 4 tutorial". Archived from the original on 2011-10-26.
  4. ^ "BackTrack Linux – Penetration Testing Distribution".
  5. ^ "Kali Linux Has Been Released!". 2013-03-12. Retrieved 2013-03-18.
  6. ^ "BackTrack -".
  7. ^ "BackTrack Linux - Penetration Testing Distribution". Retrieved 2018-09-18.
  8. ^ "BackTrack Linux - Penetration Testing Distribution". 2018-04-09. Archived from the original on 2018-04-09. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
  9. ^ "Backtrack to be Reborn as Kali Linux!". 2013-02-01.

External links[edit]