Athena OS: Arch Linux-based distro focused on Cybersecurity
Athena OS: Arch Linux-based distro focused on Cybersecurity

Athena OS: Arch Linux-based distro focused on Cybersecurity

Born for InfoSec Professionals, Bug Bounty Hunters, Passionate Students and Spicy Hackers.

Athena OS desktop interface
Athena OS desktop interface

Why Athena?

  • Pentesting: Athena can access to BlackArch repository, the biggest pentesting tool warehouse.
  • User-oriented: if Arch is born for experienced users, Athena is conceived for decreasing complexity and improving user experience.
  • Lightweight: Athena optimizes the disk space consumption by retrieving the tools you need only when you use them. Tools you never use won’t be stored and the space is only used for what you really need.
  • Performance: Athena is based on Arch Linux so it is configured to load the bare minimum for its purpose. No useless services, no useless modules consuming your resources.
  • Flexibility: for its Arch nature, Athena is flexible and can easily evolve to the new needs of the users.


Introduction to Athena-OS

The purpose of Athena project arises to offer a different experience than the most used pentesting distributions. These distros are mainly based on Debian, and they rely mainly on Debian or GitHub repositories for retrieving security tools that don’t store all security tools and are hard to maintain. Furthermore, these OSes come already with a big amount of tools and services of which a good percentage is never used by the average of users, and it becomes a space waste and could cause performance degradation.

Athena OS custom theme
Athena OS custom theme

Athena is designed from scratch, so already during the development phase useless modules and services have been excluded in order to improve performance and resource consumption. Furthermore, this design approach allowed to review in detailed manner each single package and component to include inside the distribution. It led the OS to build a user-friendly environment, despite based on Arch Linux.

The heritage of Arch Linux impacts positively Athena OS with respect to other pentesting Debian-based OSes:

  • Better performance: pacman is faster than apt
  • Focused: Athena can be developed and maintained down to the smallest detail
  • Much more security tools: Athena can rely on BlackArch repository, that contains much more security tools than Debian repositories
  • Freedom: during the installation, you can choose to build your Athena with any resource or service you need.
  • Documentation: Arch Linux is very well documented on Internet for any need

Athena’s environment is based on GNOME Wayland that provide exciting features the user can enjoy!

Let’s give a detailed look on Athena!


Download the latest Athena release .iso file from the related section. According to your need, you can choose to install Athena on your computer natively, or implement it on a Virtual Machine (e.g., VMware or VirtualBox).


Currently VirtualBox is affected by a bug is enabling 3D Acceleration, so keep it disabled.

When you mount the ISO to your pendrive or your Virtual Machine and boot up Athena, you will meet Athena Calamares Installer, that allows you to customise your future Athena OS as you wish.

Athena OS after installation
Athena OS after installation

Currently, I didn’t have the time to test every scenario, but I can suggest you an installation scenario that I tested, and it is based on the installation of Athena on a VMware Virtual Machine:

  1. Boot up Athena on VMware
  2. Wait for the Installer appearing. If not, on Athena Welcome App select Advanced Installation
  3. On Welcome select your preferred language
  4. On Kernel select Linux kernel - installed by default
  5. On Drivers and Drivers Nv leaves blank
  6. On Virtual Machine set VMware Virtual Machine
  7. On Login set Display Manager: Gdm
  8. On Theme set what you prefer
  9. On Location and Keyboard set what you wish. Note: currently Calamares has a bug on the timezone setting because if the user clicks on a point of the map, usually the timezone is set to en_AG. Choose manually your preferences on the right-bottom part of the window (if need, expand installer window). This bug will be fixed in the next release of Calamares (you will need only a pacman -Syu).
  10. On Partitions set Erase disk and feel free to set up the Swap or not, and use btrfs
  11. On Users set the user details you wish
  12. Confirm the choices summary
  13. Wait for the end of installation
  14. Enjoy Athena OS!

Note: Athena Welcome App is based on ArcoLinux project. Currently, the links are still referred to ArcoLinux.


Athena OS with dock and file manager
Athena OS with dock and file manager

Latest Release

After the installation and the first boot:

  • open Kitty terminal, run htb-update and copy and paste your Hack The Box API key.

The Hack The Box API Key can be retrieved by your Hack The Box profile settings -> “Create App Token”.

Until your API key will be valid, your system will update the Hack The Box contents automatically for you at each login or when htb-update is run.

Main Elements


PenTOXIC Menu is born for organizing in pretty manner all main security tools you need to start your hacking activity. It consists in two levels:

  • 1st level containing the several hacking categories as submenu, plus Firefox browser and Code OSS as editor
  • 2nd level consisting in the hacking tools deployed for each category
PenTOXIC Menu for Athena OS
PenTOXIC Menu for Athena OS

PWNage Menu

PWNage Menu allows you to access quickly to the main hacking platforms for learning purposes and to join the main Discord InfoSec Communities:

  • 1st shell deploys all quick links to the main hacking platforms
  • 2nd shell can be accessed by the Discurity icon on top where the user has the opportunity to join several Discord InfoSec servers or open Discord App.
PWNage Menu for Athena OS
PWNage Menu for Athena OS

Hack The Box Integration

Cannot you wait for opening browser and accessing to Hack The Box website? Athena gives you the possibility to play Hack The Box machines directly on your Operating System environment in a quick and comfortable manner. Athena offers:

  • Connect/Disconnect to/from Hack The Box VPN servers
  • Play any active free machine you wish
  • Reset the active machine
  • Stop any active machine
  • Submit a flag and write a review about your hacking experience!
  • … and of course you can access to the Hack The Box website in one click
Hack The Box Integration for Athena OS
Hack The Box Integration for Athena OS

For playing Active HTB Machines, use PWNage Menu. For playing Retired Machines, just run htb-play and type the name of the machine you want to play.

Firefox ESR Hack Mode

Firefox ESR Hack Mode Logo
Firefox ESR Hack Mode Logo

Firefox ESR has been modified in order to integrate at the installation time the addons you need for your web application pentesting activity. The preinstalled addons are:

  • Cookie Quick Manager
  • Dark Reader
  • FoxyProxy Standard
  • HacKontext
  • HTTPS Everywhere
  • Privacy
  • uBlock Origin
  • Wappalyzer

Payload to Dock

Payload to Dock is based on Dash 2 Dock and keeps the access to the most famous payload repositories. It allows you to get the latest version of payloads and accessing their path directly by the shell. It shows:

  • Auto Wordlists
  • FuzzDB
  • PayloadAllTheThings
  • SecLists
  • Security Wordlist

The Dock contains also links to Mimikatz and Powersploit.

Payload to Dock Athena OS
Payload to Dock Athena OS

BlackArch Repository

BlackArch Linux is an Arch Linux-based penetration testing distribution for penetration testers and security researchers. Its repository contains 2800+ tools, classified for categories. You can install tools individually or in groups according to the categories they belong. BlackArch Repository is compatible with only Arch-based distributions as Athena OS.


NIST Feed is a special tool able to inform you as soon as possible about a new published or updated CVE by a popup notification! The notification contains a description of the CVE. Are you curious about it and would like to access to details? Left-click on it and you will be redirected to the official NIST NVD page for further details. Do you want to quickly close the popup notification? Right-click on it!

You can decide which kind of CVE you wish to be informed about, for example CVEs with an high impact on the confidentiality and integrity, or CRITICAL CVEs.

Be aware of new vulnerabilities by NIST Feed!

NIST Feed for Athena OS
NIST Feed for Athena OS


Athena OS is just born and wait only for being used by the InfoSec community!

Athena is divided in two environment: desktop and application menu.

In the desktop environment, you can invoke PenTOXIC by CTRL + SPACE, a special menu based on Fly-Pie project showing hacking categories containing the most used security tools we use for our pentesting activities. PenTOXIC gives you the possibility to quickly access to Firefox ESRCode OSS and Kitty terminal. It is born to be also used on touchscreens.

At the first usage of Athena, the security tools are not installed but if you click on one of them, Athena will install it for you. It helps the user to save disk space and install only the tools they need. The security tools invoked by PentOX menu are run by cool-retro-term terminal, and you can customise it by right-click on it and settings.

The second main element in the desktop is PWNage, a menu that offers you learning and support resources for people entering in the Cybersecurity world, and accessible by CTRL + TAB. In details, PWNage consists in two levels: the first one composed of Hacking Platform resources for learning and training, and the second one composed of InfoSec discord servers where you can find any kind of support. PWNage is fully integrated with Hack The Box, so you can play any active free machine directly on your desktop environment!

The application menu environment can be accessed by pressing the WIN button on the keyboard. This environment is used for giving you quick access to a battery of payloads you can use for your pentesting activity as SecLists and PayloadAllTheThings. These resources are also shown in the desktop by the Payload to Dock.

Of course, Athena can retrieve much more security tools, almost 3000! It is possible because it relies on BlackArch repository, so if you need another tool not shown on PentOX menu, you can install it directly by sudo pacman -S <tool-name>. If you are a lover of a specific hacking category, you can install one shot all the tools related to a specific category. For example, if you are a lover of exploitation, you can install all related tools by sudo pacman -S blackarch-exploitation. For other categories or specific tools, please refer to the BlackArch link.

In Athena OS, Firefox ESR comes with preinstalled extensions that can support you during your pentesting activity and privacy navigation:

  • Cookie Quick Manager: manage (view, search, create, edit, delete, backup, restore) cookies
  • Dark Reader: Dark mode for every website. Take care of your eyes, use dark theme for night and daily browsing
  • FoxyProxy: Proxy Management tool
  • HacKontext: inject HTTP header and body of the active browser tab on InfoSec command-line tools to improve and speed up their usage
  • HTTPS Everywhere: encrypt the Web! Automatically use HTTPS security on many sites
  • Privacy Badger: automatically learn to block invisible trackers
  • uBlock Origin: an efficient blocker. Easy on CPU and memory
  • Wappalyzer: uncover the technologies used on websites. It detects content management systems, eCommerce platforms, web servers, JavaScript frameworks, analytics tools and many more.

Furthermore, Athena supports also git, so be creative to make your own security tool and publish it on GitHub!

Utility Commands

bashtopResource monitor that shows usage and stats for processor, memory, disks, network and processes.
batcat clone with syntax highlighting and Git integration.
bfetchSuperB general-purpose fetch displayer .
codeCore engine of Visual Studio Code.
eogImage viewer.
fishA smart and user-friendly command line shell.
gitFast, scalable, distributed revision control system.
gnome-extensionsGnome Extension manager.
gnome-tweaksConfigure looks and functionality of your desktop.
htb-playSelect any Hack The Box you want to play.
kittyThe fast, feature-rich, GPU based terminal emulator.
laAn lsd -a alias.
llAn lsd -alFh alias.
lsdAn ls command with a lot of pretty colors and some other stuff.
nanoSimple terminal-based text editor.
nautilusFile Manager.
neofetchCLI system information tool written in BASH.
pacmanArch Linux package manager.
paruPacman wrapping AUR helper with lots of features and minimal interaction.
tmuxTerminal multiplexer that allow you switch easily between several programs in one terminal, detach them and reattach them to a different terminal.
treeRecursive directory listing program that produces a depth indented listing of files.
vimHighly configurable text editor built to make creating and changing any kind of text very efficient.
xcpAn extended cp command.
zA smarter cd command for your terminal.

Vim configuration is based on so it implements smart and useful pluginscolor schemes and modes.

If you would like to enable, edit or disable Burn My Window opening and closing effect:

gnome-extensions prefs

and check or uncheck your effects.

Change your themes and icons by gnome-tweaks.


Keybindings in Athena OS for speeding up your work.

WINMulti-desktop environment
WIN+WINSwitch between desktop and “Show Applications” menu


CTRL + sSuper/Mod Key
Mod_Key + \Split Panel Vertically
Mod_Key + -Split Panel Horizontal
Mod_Key + rReload tmux
Mod_Key + SHIFT + iInstall Plugins
Mod_Key + SHIFT + uUpdate Plugins
Mod_Key + cNew Tab
SHIFT + Right/Left Arrow Key or Modkey + nSwitch Between Tabs
Mod_Key + Right/Left/Up/Down Arrow KeySwitch Between Splitted Panels
Mod_Key + wList All Windows and Panels
Mod_Key + xKill Tab or Panel
Mod_Key + &Kill Window
Mod_key + qShow Panel or Tab Number
Mod_Key + tClock
Mod_Key + yCopy Selected Text to Clipboard
Mod_Key + SHIFT + yCopy Working Directory (install xclip package)
Mod_Key + pPaste
Mod_Key + dDetach Terminal
Mod_Key + fFind
Mod_Key + zMake Panel Full Window
Mod_Key + mStart Monitoring Panel
Mod_key + $Rename Session
Dark Mode

athena-iso (this link opens in a new window) by Athena-OS (this link opens in a new window)

Athena is a Arch Linux-based distro focused on Cybersecurity. Learn, practice and enjoy with any hacking tool!