Tutorial: Kali Linux with GNU Radio, GQRX and RTL-SDR dongle

Posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 in Linux, open source, SDR, software by the machinegeek

If you’ve tried to install GNU Radio from binaries without success, this video from NeedSec is for you. He demonstrates how to intall GNU Radio on Kali Linux from source, and confirms operation of the RTL-SDR dongle using GQRX radio receiver software.

WE GAVE IT A TRY: We’ve tried installing GNU Radio on various flavors of Linux, along with the associated libraries and dependencies needed for using the RTL-SDR dongle, with varying degrees of success. Usually the GNU Radio install goes OK, but the RTL-SDR dongle source does not appear among the list of available blocks in Gnuradio-Companion. The same goes for the OP25 decoder block for receiving APCO25 digital transmissions. The hangups usually relate to the lack of integration between 1the Linux distro, GNU Radio and the dependencies needed for the dongle and OP25 libraries.

We followed the steps outlined in this video on a fresh install of Kali and are pleased to report that IT WORKS! GQRX and GNU Radio both recognized several different RTL-SDR dongles, a Funcube dongle and a USRP1 SDR without a problem. Note that as stated in the video, the install process is very lengthy. The on-screen prompt warns “This will take a long time.” Note it says “will”, not might. Our install took over three hours, but this just proves that good things come to those who wait. (The Kali graphical install option which we used was also one of the most user friendly Linux installs we’ve experienced. For novices, it should be noted that you’ll need to know the actual drive designator for the HD on which Kali is being installed (i.e., “/dev/sda” or “/dev/sdb”, etc.) as you’ll be asked to type this in when the Grub bootloader is being installed. Failure to do so will give you a non-bootable install!)

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you want to get up and running with GNU Radio and the RTL-SDR dongle, this is the route to go. Painless, flawless. It just works. And since Kali is from the creators of the BackTrack pen testing distro, you also get a cool Linux distro with security tools preinstalled.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 at 2:38 pm and is filed under Linux, open source, SDR, software. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “Tutorial: Kali Linux with GNU Radio, GQRX and RTL-SDR dongle”

  1. mossmann says:

    Or you can just use Pentoo. All this stuff works out of the box.

  2. Kali says:

    No one wants to use Pentoo, a broken, useless distro. Try peddling your Useless crap elsewhere.

  3. Paul says:

    Thank you for a great tutorial. I am having trouble however, I download and run build script as described but Kali complains it cannot find libpulse-dev during the install. It suggests I add universe and multiverse repos, which repos should I add for Kali?

    Thank you,

  4. gawd wouldn’t it be great if someone just built a VM or uploaded an image with all this preinstalled? I know its my fault for being a linux newbie but i’ve been stuck on simple crap like this
    /root/gr-baz/lib/ error: ‘d_length’ was not declared in this scope
    make[2]: *** [lib/CMakeFiles/gnuradio-baz.dir/] Error 1
    make[1]: *** [lib/CMakeFiles/gnuradio-baz.dir/all] Error 2
    make: *** [all] Error 2

  5. AdvNewb says:

    VM’s can’t keep up with SDR. You get some random loss in the output signals – no good for decoding!

  6. timkofu says:

    I second @mossmann. Pentoo is the stuff.

  7. santa says:

    Unless you need a 32 bit image. Current Kali has everything you need preinstalled and offers both 32 & 64 bit images.

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