Free live cd distros for Pentest, Recovery& Forensics

Penetration testing is the security-oriented probing of a computer system or network to seek out vulnerabilities that an attacker could exploit.
A distro is a unix-like operating system comprising software components such as the Linux kernel, the GNU toolchain, and assorted free and open source software.
I’ve listed 20 top distros used for Pentest, recovery & forensics .

1. BackTrack

BackTrack is the result of the merging of two Innovative Penetration Testing live Linux distributions Whax(formely WHoppix). and Auditor, combining the best features from both distributions, and paying special attention to small details, this is probably the best version of either distributions to ever come out.

Based on SLAX (Slackware), BackTrack provides user modularity. This means the distribution can be easily customised by the user to include personal scripts, additional tools, customised kernels, etc.

  1. Operator

Operator is a complete Linux (Debian) distribution that runs from a single bootable CD and runs entirely in RAM. The Operator contains an extensive set of Open Source network security tools that can be used for monitoring and discovering networks. This virtually can turn any PC into a network security pen-testing device without having to install any software. Operator also contains a set of computer forensic and data recovery tools that can be used to assist you in data retrieval on the local system.

  1. PHLAK

PHLAK or [P]rofessional [H]acker?s [L]inux [A]ssault [K]it is a modular live security Linux distribution (a.k.a LiveCD). PHLAK comes with two light gui?s (fluxbox and XFCE4), many security tools, and a spiral notebook full of security documentation. PHLAK is a derivative of Morphix, created by Alex de Landgraaf.

Download Link1

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4. Auditor

The Auditor security collection is a Live-System based on KNOPPIX. With no installation whatsoever, the analysis platform is started directly from the CD-Rom and is fully accessible within minutes. Independent of the hardware in use, the Auditor security collection offers a standardised working environment, so that the build-up of know-how and remote support is made easier.


  1. L.A.S Linux

Local Area Security Linux is a ?Live CD? distribution with a strong emphasis on security tools and small footprint. We currently have 2 different versions of L.A.S. to fit two specific needs – MAIN and SECSERV. This project is released under the terms of GPL.

  1. Knoppix-STD

STD is a Linux-based Security Tool. Actually, it is a collection of hundreds if not thousands of open source security tools. Its sole purpose in life is to put as many security tools at your disposal with as slick an interface as it can.

7. Helix

Helix is a customized distribution of the Knoppix Live Linux CD. Helix is more than just a bootable live CD. You can still boot into a customized Linux environment that includes customized linux kernels, excellent hardware detection and many applications dedicated to Incident Response and Forensics.

  1. F.I.R.E

FIRE is a portable bootable cdrom based distribution with the goal of providing an immediate environment to perform forensic analysis, incident response, data recovery, virus scanning and vulnerability assessment.

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  1. nUbuntu

The main goal of nUbuntu is to create a distribution which is derived from the Ubuntu distribution, and add packages related to security testing, and remove unneeded packages, such as Gnome,, and Evolution. nUbuntu is the result of an idea two people had to create a new distribution for the learning experience.

DEFT (acronym of “Digital Evidence & Forensic Toolkit) is a customized distribution of the Kubuntu live Linux CD. It is a very easy to use system that includes an excellent hardware detection and the best open source applications dedicated to incident response and computer forensics.

  1. INSERT Rescue Security Toolkit

INSERT is a complete, bootable linux system. It comes with a graphical user interface running the fluxbox window manager while still being sufficiently small to fit on a credit card-sized CD-ROM.

The current version is based on Linux kernel and Knoppix 4.0.2

The Samurai Web Testing Framework is a LiveCD focused on web application testing. We have collected the top testing tools and pre-installed them to build the perfect environment for testing applications.


Russix is a Slax based Wireless Live Linux. It has been designed to be light (circa 230Mb) and dedicated purely to wireless auditing. It is not a script kiddy phishing tool and as such, while it will allow you to break a WEP key in 6 key strokes and conduct an “Evil Tiny Twin” attack in less than 5, it will not let you become the latest version of Barclays Bank.

14.Stagos FSE

Stagos FSE aims to be a computer forensic framework based on FLOSS operating system. Builds from Ubuntu, it has many feature to do forensics stuff. It supports read variant filesystem, include ntfs. It also support read some forensic imaging file from another forensic software such like ENCASE.

Protech is a specially designed Linux distribution for security technicians and programmers.
It’s imcomparable usability and stability makes this a unique product.

16.OWASP Labrat
The OWASP Live CD (LabRat) is a bootable CD akin to knoppix but dedicated to Application Security. It shall serve as a vehicle and distrubition medium for OWASP tools and guides.

17.OSWA Assistant
The OSWA-Assistant is a self-contained, freely downloadable, wireless-auditing toolkit for both IT-security professionals and End-users alike.

The ophcrack LiveCD contains a small linux system (SLAX6), ophcrack for linux and rainbow tables for alphanumerical passwords.The liveCD cracks passwords automatically, no installation necessary, no admin password necessary (as long as you can boot from CD). Windows Vista SAM can also be cracked.

The Kcpentrix Project was founded in May 2005 , KCPentrix 1.0 was liveCD designed to be a standalone Penetration testing toolkit for pentesters, security analysts and system administrators.

A bootable distribution containing all the tools and materials needed for practising methods and techniques described in the hackin9 magazin.

SecureDvd is a live DVD collection featuring the 10 Best Security Live CD Distros (Pen-Test, Forensics & Recovery) as per Darknet on one single DVD. The live DVD collection features the following security based live distributions
1. BackTrack
2. Operator
4. Auditor
5. L.A.S. Linux – Local Area Security
6. Knoppix-STD
7. Helix
8. F.I.R.E.
9. nUbuntu
10. INSERT Rescue Security Toolkit

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