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BackTrack 5 review – if you’re serious about pentesting don’t leave home without it!

by Koen Vervloesem

BackTrack is a well-known specialized Linux distribution focusing on security tools for penetration testers and security professionals, but it now offers a lot in terms of forensics…

Pros: BackTrack 5 has all the tools you need for testing network security and its nicely presented
Cons: Documentation is scarce and often outdated & upgrading from previous release isn’t supported
Backtrack homepage

The advantage of BackTrack 5 (BT5) is that it offers a slew of security and forensic tools on a live DVD, ready to use. It’s based on Ubuntu Lucid (10.04 LTS) with Linux kernel 2.6.38 and some patched WiFi drivers to allow injection attacks. You can download the distribution in a GNOME or a KDE version, for 32-bit or 64-bit x86 machines. It’s a live DVD ISO file, which you can burn to a DVD or write to a USB stick. On the desktop of the live session, there’s an installer icon if you want to install BackTrack permanently. For the first time, the project also has an image for ARM, which you can run on your smartphone or tablet to test the security of a wireless network.

BackTrack 5 review - if you're serious about pentesting don't leave home without it!
BackTrack 5 allows you to boot into a stealth or a forensics mode

BackTrack’s boot menu gives you various options. The default option just starts a live session (a stylish framebuffer console, in which you can start GNOME or KDE with startx), but there’s also a stealth mode which boots the distribution without generating any network traffic: you have to enable networking manually later. This is interesting if you want to hide your presence on the network temporarily. Another nice option is the forensics mode, which doesn’t automatically mount the computer’s drives and also doesn’t use any swap space it finds. When forensically investigating a system, this guarantees that you don’t accidentally wipe out hidden traces.

BackTrack 5 review - if you're serious about pentesting don't leave home without it!
BackTrack organizes all tools in various menus

BackTrack is filled with a collection of more than 300 open source security tools, which you can find organized in different submenus of the “Backtrack” menu: “Information Gathering”, “Vulnerability Assessment”, “Exploitation Tools”, “Privilege Escalation”, “Maintaining Access”, “Reverse Engineering”, “RFID Tools”, “Stress Testing”, “Forensics”, “Reporting Tools”, “Services”, and “Miscellaneous”. Each submenu is further subdivided into subcategories. The developers have added a nice touch to menu items of commandline utilities: when you click on such a menu item, it opens a terminal window with the tool showing its usage, e.g. with the –help option.

Continue to page 2: Conclusion and score

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    • I’m sorry but saying this thing is for “security testing” is like saying that an attachable credit card magnetic stripe reader is used tot test either the security of your card or the atm that it’s attached to.

      But that’s besides the point. What i wanted to ask is: dose it play nice on a pendrive? Dose it have a sufficient array of drivers to work on more than 80% of the computers out there? IT’s not the graphics card i’m worried about but the wireless network drivers.

    • Tuatara


      The article does not state “security testing” but penetration testing. Quite different.

      Most of the drivers are the same as in Ubuntu Lucid. Plays nicely with pendrive. Many users have it on pendrive or even SHDC card, on laptops with card readers. Probably more than 80% of HW works. Some wi-fi cards work, but unfortunately can’t inject – mostly due to crappy HW or lack of manufacturer’s documentation. Most of them are fully compatible, which you can check in compatibility list. Most of the people learning or working with BT buy hardware that they know will work best.

    • Pingback: BackTrack 5 review – if you’re serious about pentesting don’t leave home without it! | Developers Blog()

    • @Tuatara

      Thanks for the clarification.

      Well i did test it on my mac and sadly it dosen’t detect about half of the components in it which is a shame. I guess there’s a reason it experts use PC’s and not Mac’s, although Mac’s are still PC’s but that’s a different story. In any case i have an acer laptop at home and i’ll start torturing that when i get the chance.

    • E=Mc2


      Macs are crappy when trying to run Linux, mainly because Apple is selfish and doesn’t help Linux creators and because the major collection of people use standard PC’s aka designed for Windows.

    • Tuatara


      Your a moron!
      Go fuck your mother you Muppet !!!

    • I use both Mac and PC since ever, still own several of them and use them testing this and that Linux distro’s. BackTrack seems interesting, I’ll see how it installs over the windows7 that I got on my Intel Mac or my PC. Ubuntu goes ok on a intel Mac, so does Fedora or Suse even if there is sometimes some issue with the soundcard, the wificard or ethernetcard, but that’s just the fun about.

    • @tuatara take a look

    • Toaster

      Runs really well on an Imac i7 intel. Quad booting with Scientific, Open Suse and OSX. I disagree totally with Taransus by the way, the BEST security penetrating suite on earth, nothing touches it with wlan, they key is knowing how to use it correctly, as is well known the ‘paper work’ is dreadful.

    • I have this running in free vmware player and this is an awesome set of tools to be able to have on my laptop.

    • Apollos Jolivert

      Is there a version of Backtrack 5 that runs like Backtrack 4 or backtrack 3 where you do not have to reinvent the world and all that extra manual configuration to get it to work?

      Mine just tells me that It could not find the Kernel and stopped right there.

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    • plenty

      mate this is helpfull it so is but a bit like phisssss g -ng ..dat airmon dumping i carnt ifcong this mate its twisting my mellon ha

    • plenty

      to be honest my ram is shite and i need to sort that quick then miss fern will do her majic ,,, guys does fern need the up date ass doesnt have the obvious choice of the 3

    • asd


    • Muhammad

      is it used for hacking also?

    • lukas

      I would like to inform you that preorder offer of new issue of PenTest Magazine focused on Pentesting with Backtrack is ready here: . Using preorder you will pay 15$ instead of regural price – 30$.

    • Natalia Nakato

      kali linux is out and the latest so backtrack is outdated

    • Safeburn Safedll

      if you know commands you can use tools provided to hack :D

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    • lukiz01

      BACK TRACK 5 R3
      @ >


      IS it have AIRCRACK-