BackTrack was a Linux distribution that focused on security based on the Knoppix Linux distribution aimed at digital forensics and penetration testing use. In March 2013, the Offensive Security team rebuilt BackTrack around the Debian distribution and released it under the name Kali Linux.


The BackTrack distribution originated from the merger of two formerly competing distributions which focused on penetration testing:

  • WHAX: a Slax-based Linux distribution developed by Mati Aharoni, a security consultant. Earlier versions of WHAX were called Whoppix and were based on Knoppix.
  • Auditor Security Collection: a Live CD based on Knoppix developed by Max Moser which included over 300 tools organised in a user-friendly hierarchy.

The overlap with Auditor and WHAX in purpose and in collection of tools partly led to the merger.


BackTrack provided users with easy access to a comprehensive and large collection of security-related tools ranging from port scanners to Security Audit. Support for Live CD and Live USB functionality allowed users to boot BackTrack directly from portable media without requiring installation, though permanent installation to hard disc and network was additionally an option.

BackTrack included a large number of well known security tools including:

BackTrack arranged tools into 12 categories:

  • Information gathering
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Exploitation tools
  • Privilege escalation
  • Maintaining access
  • Reverse engineering
  • RFID tools
  • Stress testing
  • Forensics
  • Reporting tools
  • Services
  • Miscellaneous


February 5, 2006BackTrack v.1.0 Beta
May 26, 2006First release of Backtrack v.1.0
March 6, 2007BackTrack 2 final released.
June 19, 2008BackTrack 3 final released.
January 9, 2010BackTrack 4 final release. (Linux kernel
May 8, 2010BackTrack 4 R1 release
November 22, 2010BackTrack 4 R2 release
May 10, 2011BackTrack 5 release (Linux kernel 2.6.38)
August 18, 2011BackTrack 5 R1 release (Linux kernel
March 1, 2012BackTrack 5 R2 release (Linux kernel 3.2.6)
August 13, 2012BackTrack 5 R3 release

Whenever a new version of BackTrack was released, older versions would lose their support and service from the BackTrack development team. There are currently no supported versions of BackTrack.