Updating Kali to run Kismet

Updating Kali, tools, and a quick detour into USB settings in VirtualBox

Purchased a new ALFA Network AWUS036ACM 802.11ac AC 1200 High-Speed USB Adapter for use with Kali linux. Kali is running in a Virtual Box instance on a POP OS! linux machine.

I’ll be the first to admit that my linux admin skills are a bit rusty these days, spending it more in windows utilities and spreadsheet. But this was a solid attempt for me to remember some skills.


  1. Updating Kali from within the VM
  2. Getting the USB device to appear in the virtual machine

Updating Kali from within the VM

Virtual Box 6.1.36 (yes a bit old)

  1. Update Kali – It has been awhile since I used Kali linux. Last time I had done so it was for a cyber-physical security class (super awesome) but that meant that my version was at least a year out of date. I wanted to just update the distro from within the vm I had already created instead of creating a new vm.
  2. Instead of re-writing the instructions, check out this posting from <packt>
    • apt-get update (downloads latest packages)
    • apt-get upgrade (updates non-system packages)
    • apt-get dist-upgrade (updates kernel)
    • I did run into a bit of an issue with some key material and found this post helpful again from StackExchange.
  3. Making sure that guest additions was installed – I did have the 6.1.36 guest additions installed already. I tried to re-install and found that the drive wouldn’t auto-run when the “CD” was installed nor could I execute the scripts. Turns out the cdrom wasn’t executable. I found this posting on StackExchange helpful.

Getting the USB device to appear in the virtual machine

I didn’t realize that my laptop had 2 USB 3.0 ports on it. They have blue connectors on the inside of them. Why is this important? I didn’t really think it was important given this is older technology and my assumption that USB should just work. Well, I plugged in the ALFA card and kept getting a pop-up banner in Kali saying that it failed to attach the USB device to the virtual machine. The error code was Error: VERR_PDM_NO_USB_PORTS. (Note that prior to this point, I had already passed through my USB device into this VM.)

The virtualbox settings for my kali vm were to use the USB 2.0 (OHCI + EHCI) Controller. This has been a default for me on other vms and didn’t change it.

The ALFA card I am using comes with a USB 3.0 cable. And when I plugged it into my laptop (into a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port), it is registered as a USB 3.0 device in lsusb in the host OS.

I saw that the MediaTek device (ALFA) was registered as a SuperSpeed USB device USB 3.0. I went back to the settings for the VM and had it use USB 3.0.

My VM would fault and exit with the the USB 3.0 setting regardless of any USB devices physically plugged in.

Trying to debug things, I took a bit more of a look into SuperSpeed and a bit more into USB ports. This site has some good information on USB protocols. That’s when I realized that my laptop had two different colored USB ports. So, I plugged the USB cable to my ALFA card into the USB 2.0 port, changed the vm settings back to USB 2.0, and restarted the VM.

The host system registered the ALFA as a USB 2.0 device (lsusb).

Checking my settings in the VM

Kali started!

Launching kismet and see that the Wi-Fi card now appears as a data source.

First thing I saw in the SSIDs was a very old SSID. Turns out my washer and dryer were still probing for the AP even when their Wi-Fi connection was allegedly off. Good to know.

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