Kali Linux Improves Software Defined Radio (SDR) Support


I have been a long time user of Backtrack Linux and have used Kali Linux since it’s release earlier this year. I have been very impressed with Kali Linux, its Debian base has meant much better stability. The range of packages included is excellent and for penetration testing there is no better platform. However it was missing some key packages needed for SDR and it’s version of GNU Radio was outdated. The only option was to build from source which was time consuming and some users had build issues.

GNURadio Kali Linux

GNURadio Kali Linux

Software Defined Radio

With the availability of cheap SDR platforms like the RTL2832U and the E4000 SDR has become accessible to everyone. With releases of BladeRF and soon to be released HackRF the analysis of unintended emissions is going to factor into penetration tests of higher security environments.

Kali Linux 1.0.5 Update with SDR Support

The upcoming release of Kali Linux 1.0.5 has improved support for SDR. For a full list of changes check out the change log. It is excellent to see that the team behind Kali Linux is so responsive to the user community. Devon or dookie is a tireless worker behind the scenes and has been responsible for the addition of the SDR tools. He is also co-author of the Metasploit Bible, the book that every pentester has in their library. The List below shows some of the tools, libs and applications added.

  • Kalibrate for RTLSDR
  • gr-air-modes
  • RTLSDR Scanner
  • pyrtlsdr
  • GNU Radio Signal Scanner
  • libosmocore 0.6.3
  • grextras
  • gr-baz
  • gr-osmosdr
  • gr-iqbal
  • rtl-sdr 0.5.0
  • HackRF for SDR
  • gr-fcdproplus for SDR
  • UHD Images

GNU Radio Version

GNU Radio has been updated to this is the last stable release of the 3.6 branch and is compatible with a lot of third party applications and libraries. Version 3.7 of GNU Radio has had a big reorganization of blocks and a major API changes.


Gqrx Kali Linux

Gqrx is a SDR receiver powered by GNU Radio that has the following features. :

  • Discover devices attached to the computer.
  • Process I/Q data from the supported devices.
  • Change frequency, gain and apply various corrections (frequency, I/Q balance).
  • AM, SSB, FM-N and FM-W (mono and stereo) demodulators.
  • Special FM mode for NOAA APT.
  • Variable band pass filter.
  • AGC, squelch and noise blankers.
  • FFT plot and waterfall.
  • Record and playback audio to / from WAV file.
  • Spectrum analyzer mode where all signal processing is disabled.

Version 2.1 is used as it is built off the 3.6 branch.

There are many other useful applications added and I am sure there are more to come. I have done a little testing and I have been able to successfully build third party apps. I am now using Kali Linux exclusively as my platform for SDR work. If you are not using Kali Linux already I recommend you download it and try it for yourself.



Credit: @NowSec – needsec

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