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Kiwix --- offline website reader.


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What is Kiwix?



We can make highly compressed copies of entire websites that each fit into a single (.zim) file. Zim files are small enough that they can be stored on users’ mobile phones, computers or small, inexpensive Hotspot.



The Kiwix reader runs on almost any device (mobile phones, computers, etc.). For the end user it feels pretty much like a regular browser as the experience is almost identical to browsing the source website(s). Except that there is no internet.


I looked into this fascinating software as I wanted to have a copy of the Arch Wiki on hand offline. Yes I know that you can do something from the command line but I would be happier with a program that looked like a web page if that makes sense.


Arch has a kiwix-desktop application within which you can download the Arch Wiki or any of 4003 web site sections or books as they are called and view them.






Setting up was easy.  Download the kiwix-desktop then download the Arch Wiki book and you are up and running.


Here is a freshly opened Kiwix.




As you can see you can resize the  the window  to suit.




I have also added a couple of extra books to kiwix. With fast stable internet kiwix may not be necessary. However if you bork your os and can not get on line or get a connection gremlin or internet outage kiwix may just save the day. You could download whatever content you fancy and turn of your router/modem for an afternoon whilst you peruse, thus saving a few shillings worth of electricity.


There are other uses for kiwix and Arch has a range of kiwix programs available. These will allow you to view .zim files you have made from your own choice of web sites.


Where do I find zim files?

Kiwix comes without content files. You need to download them from the app’s library, download from our repository, or generate your own via Zimit.


I noticed that the Futurama offering at Kiwix was from 2017 so I went to the site and used Zimit to make an uptodate file.




Once the site had been zimmed I downloaded the file and tried to read it from kiwix-desktop. However it could not be read from that program. There is some information regarding this at the Zimit site.



You will need a Zim file reader. This usually means Kiwix, which is available on desktop computers, mobile devices, and more. Currently only Kiwix-serve and Kiwix-Android can read all Zimit-generated files. If using Kiwix-Desktop for Microsoft Windows and GNU/Linux, then you will need to configure it as a Kiwix-serve instance in the settings. We expect most platforms to be upgraded by the end of 2021.


Although Arch has all the tools needed to set up a server, there is even a Docker offering I could not be bothered with all the fafff.


Luckily for me though I came across this,


Kiwix JS PWA


This allows you to view .zim files offline in a browser.



Install in Chrome/Edge, bookmark in Firefox

In Chromium browsers (e.g. Chrome, Edge), you can install the PWA (Progressive Web App) as an offline-first app as in the demo above: an "Install" button will show up in Configuration. Firefox doesn't support installing PWAs, but instead you can bookmark it and (after your first visit) it will also work offline when you open the bookmark. This should work in any browser that supports Service Workers.


A few clicks later and I have the latest copy of the Futurama Infosphere site available for offline perusal.




Using Kiwix JS PWA  was just a tad glitchy to start with but it seems to have settled down and is working well. I pulled the ethernet cable from the pc to see if offline worked and it did with no problems. I could change which book/site I wanted to with no problems, going form Futurama to the Arch Wiki and back again.


There is more to this tale but it will have to wait for another day.



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On 11/29/2022 at 11:22 PM, securitybreach said:

 There are packages available in the arch repos which give you the wiki in html pages or console only:




BTW neat application though


I belive I did try using the Arch Wiki from the cli some time ago but found it hard to navigate, never tried through html pages though.


Kiwix  is neat though a you can download TED talks, Kahn Acedemy, Stackexchange, Military medicine,Vi and Vim , Lifehacker,and a whole variety of other web site chunks. Plus you can obtain your own selections aswell.

For anyone going off grid, travelling or with dodgy internet I recon it would be a great tool.


Me I am happy looking over the Futurama , xckd offerings and may have a looksee at the Doom stuff later on.😋


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