Install BackTrack 4 beta on VMware 5.5.x from the ISO image


BackTrack is a Linux distribution which comes configured with a set of tools and a menu layout designed to assist with pentesting. The distribution is available as an ISO image which can be burned to a CD (although, at 854MB it's a bit big for most CDs) becoming a bootable Live CD. It is also available as a VMware image which allows the distribution to be run in a virtual machine (VM) on the desktop.

The VMware image was created using VMware Workstation 6, but may work under Workstation 5.x - I don't know, I haven't tried because I wanted to install BackTrack into a new virtual machine under VMware Workstation 5.5.9.

There's a handy pdf guide to installing BackTrack 4 beta to a hard disk drive available at the remote-exploit forums and following the guide to the letter results in a hassle-free installation.  Before getting to the stage where I could follow this guide, I had to set-up a new virtual machine and create a virtual disk large enough for my needs. Every time I do this, I choose the wrong options and end up having to redo the VM set-up - usually because the distribution can't detect the virtual disk due to my choice of SCSI adapter type.

Here then are the steps required to set-up a VM in preparation for the hard drive installation:

  1. File > New VM > Custom > Linux (Other Linux 2.6.x kernel).
  2. Name the VM and select a location for it.
  3. Choose the number of processors you want the machine to use.
  4. Choose the amount of memory available to the machine.
  5. Select use bridged networking.
  6. Choose the BusLogic SCSI Adapter.
  7. Create a New virtual disk.
  8. Choose the recommended SCSI interface.
  9. Choose disk options (I went for 8GB, with all space allocated now and split into 2GB files).
  10. Choose a filename for disk file.
  11. Wait for disk creation to complete.

That's the VM created.  Now it's only a case of downloading the ISO image file and editing the VMs CD-ROM connection to "Use ISO image" and pointing it to the BT4 ISO.

After starting the VM and logging in as u:root p:toor you are ready to follow the hard drive install guide.

It's worth noting that BackTrack 4 is based on Ubuntu and as such, it may be easier to select Ubuntu as the guest operating system instead of "Other Linux 2.6.x kernel" when setting-up the new VM.  I haven't tried this and I'd love to know if anyone has had success, or otherwise, with that choice.


Thanks a lot for the info Jah. Why would we select the following options instead of NAT?

  • # Select use bridged networking.
  • # Choose the BusLogic SCSI Adapter.

Waiting eagerly for your reply


Hello Nipun,

The steps I've outlined in this article are those I consider typical and useful to most people wishing to install backtrack in a virtual machine. The choice of networking must be based on your own preferences and requirements - I specified Bridged Networking as it seems to be a very common choice.

From the VMware documentation on the subject:

"If your host computer is on an Ethernet network, this is often the easiest way to give your virtual machine access to that network."

A virtual machine with this configuration has it's own network address and is visible on the network as if it were a physical machine.

You would likely use NAT if your host computer is not connected to an ethernet network as in the case of a dial-up internet connection or broadband via a USB modem.

I hope that helps and I thank you for the question, I will update the article to make the selection of networking more clear soon.