Switching from Mac to Linux?

So…I’m looking at getting into cybersecurity/ethical hacking, and I’m already tackling learning the command line.

But regardless of what I’m learning or researching at any given time, one thing I’m always hearing is “Use Linux. Use Linux. If you’re using Mac, switch to Linux. If you’re using Windows…just don’t. And switch to Linux.”’

So I guess I should probably switch to Linux.

The first question is, which distro? There are a lot. And no, I don’t want to go the easiest way and then move up, unless somebody gives me a really good reason. I like to jump in and learn the hard way. Somebody who isn’t into hacking himself but knows some people who are said that he’s heard Kali is good.

The second question is one that I can seem to turn up any answers to no matter how long I search the internet: Can I run Linux on my Mac and still switch back to Mac if I wanted to? Basically, could I run both on my computer at the same time (like you can run Windows on a Mac in Parallels Desktop), and still get full Linux functionality.

Yes, I’m doing my research outside of pestering people on the forums. :slight_smile: Lots of it. Sometimes I just like to ask human beings who will understand my questions better than my search engine does.

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I’m not a mac user, but I found this which you might find helpful: https://www.howtogeek.com/187410/how-to-install-and-dual-boot-linux-on-a-mac/
Good luck!

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Yes, very helpful, thank you.

Now not only do I have an idea how to do it, I know that “dual boot” is the term I should be searching for. Thanks again!

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I recommend getting VMware. They have free trial and you can play in all the different Linux environments. I think they had 15-20. Plus they have the port that links directly into the Mac OS. Are you using a virtual workspace? You don’t really have to do a dual boot.

Basically you make a virtual workstation. A computer within your computer. That runs on it’s own seperate OS. Linux is the favorite because it typically eats less resources and it’s all open sourced stuff for the developers in all of us.

I am doing classes here and at The Odin Project. The Odin Project has you set up an actual work space as opposed to here where they sort of give us one. So I’d recommend at least doing the first few excercises over there so you can see about the virtual workspace.


Dual booting can be slightly risky if you mess up your partitions. So dual booting just means you can load up either Operating System from shut down.

The virtual machine option just means you are building a self contained workspace within your OS. Within that framework though u can load up and test any operating system etc… That being said, you can still hurt things by messing around in file manager. For instance, if you build files while in your workspace, but couple days later while on your main operating system start moving things around, you can move the location of whatever you may have build in your virtual space. I’ve enjoyed learning about them though, and it ties right in to Googles Cloud Program etc.

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This is fascinating! Thank you so much. I dove right into an almost-hour-long internet research session after seeing your answer. (Which means I liked it.) :smiley: I’ve heard of virtual spaces before, but wasn’t sure what it meant. I still have a lot to learn.

But it doesn’t have to right? I’m always slightly suspicious of Google Cloud. :wink:

well google cloud, amazon, all the cloud services. you basically use their “power” and run your developed phone apps, or business solutions, etc.

check out the odin project’s beginner stuff. they do good job of teaching you but making you “figure it out” on your own. so ties in well with what is offered here.

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I imagine with your interest into cyber security I just gave you a GIANT rabbit hole to explore. Lol. I am sorry for the distraction. Trust me when I say I got sucked in for a week or two learning about it. Heavy duty for security though. It’s how they fight and defend main physical servers. Lots of virtual pc’s to trick virus into attacking them instead of real one.

Got it, thanks.

Cool, that’s how I learn best! I’ll check it out.

Hey, no worries! Something new to explore. And I like rabbits, anyway. :rabbit2:

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Just wanted to check in and see how things went. Did you learn anything interesting or decide to utilize this?

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Yes, there are many Linux distros. If we’re talking Linux generally, I personally like Ubuntu, or CentOS at a push.

Kali Linux is a Debian-based Linux distro which is popular with security professionals - ethical hackers, pen-testers etc - because it’s designed to do that job. It’s optimised to be used in that field, and comes with a lot of software bundled with the OS.

I’ll give you the obligatory warning - most of the tools you can find in the cybersec space aren’t illegal, but can be used in ways which are. Quite easily… so, I guess what I’m saying is don’t be an idiot :slight_smile:

Yes, you can “dual boot” if you wanted to - that is, have both Linux and Mac OS installed and running on your computer. I try and avoid that.

What I would suggest you do instead is look into installing a hypervisor on your computer. (A hypervisor is basically the platform that allows you to run virtual machines.) This way, your Mac OS is unchanged - you’ve not got to mess with any settings, or risk damage to your computer. You can install whatever Linux distro you want into the VM, mess around with it, and if you break it you can easily reset it or re-install without any harm to your actual computer.

You mention Parallels, which I don’t know a great deal about as I’m not a Mac user.

I would recommend, if you need a hypervisor, that you look at VirtualBox. It runs on Mac OSX, is quite easy to install and set up, and is completely free for personal use. It also plays nice with Linux VMs.

I presume you’re referring to VMware’s vSphere product? Overkill for someone looking to tinker, more complicated and more resource hungry than VirtualBox in my experience. :slight_smile:

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vsphere is way overkill…they have the vmware player for newbies and free
then vmwarepro for projects
then their BIG one with sphere for legit work

Ahh… I forgot about those.

The restriction with VMware Player, at least the free version, is its inability to run multiple VMs at once. If you’re setting up a lab, being constrained to a single VM will be a considerable hinderance.

VMware Player would probably work if you were setting up a virtual dev machine, i.e. you wanted to spin up a Linux box to do the dev work on to make some things easier, but it wouldn’t be suitable for a lab without paying for the Pro version.

At that point, especially for a beginner, VirtualBox would make more sense. :slight_smile:

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Hi, thanks.

I have decided that I really like the virtual machine idea, but I haven’t decided on anything for sure yet. Part of it is that I have to check with my dad, because my current computer is technically his and so anything that I put on here I have to run past him first.

I will let you know what and when I decide!

Hahaha, that’s a very useful piece of life advice.

Yes, I just mentioned it as an example. It’s what my dad and I use to run Windows on our computers.

There’s one thing here that’s confusing me. I keep seeing VMWare Player and VMWarePro mentioned, but when I looked at them, it looks like you can only run them on Windows or Linux…then I found this.

The main thing it seems to be advertising is running Windows on Mac, but I looked at it and it says it can also run Linux.

These were what I was looking at for Player and Pro:

And this is what I saw at the bottom of the page for Fusion.


Long story short, I’m confused.

I’ll look into that, thanks!

Yes, that’s their main marketing point from what I can tell. If you actually look at the documentation for Parallels Desktop, though, it will support multiple VMs and you can use it to run Linux on a Mac OS host.

If you’re looking at experimenting with some Linux distros, and you already have Parallels Desktop for running Windows on your Mac, this seems like a no-brainer. Why get to grips with another virtualisation product, like VirtualBox, if you’ve already got one and you know how to use it.

Ahhh… sorry, should’ve spotted that! Yes, VMware Player isn’t supported on Mac. Your only choice, if you want to run VMs on a Mac with VMware, would be VMware Fusion. There’s no free version of that, it’s a paid program. You can get a free trial if you want, though.

Sorry! Hopefully I’ve made things a bit clearer, though. :slight_smile:

TL;DR - you already have Parallels Desktop, which you can use to tinker with Linux with minimal effort. :+1:

Somehow, I’ve managed to miss that. I think I was told at some point that Parallels was only for running Windows, or maybe I wasn’t told that, but that’s how I understood what I was told. I’m always getting, “No, I didn’t say that! How did you manage to interpret it that way?” from people. :laughing: Oh, well.

Well, I guess I’ll try Parallels first, then. Thanks!

Yep, you did! Thanks!

To be honest, I also only made the connection Parallels = Windows VM until I went and checked their site. Didn’t know it could be used for anything else, even though it would make sense for a hypervisor to support multiple guest OSes…


Lol I totally overlooked it too and I had looked at Parallels. Sounds like you are sorted then. Congratulations!! And to anyone else following this thread, if you are doing coding, look into a virtual machine. This day and age it will pay off for you in long run I feel.

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