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Kiwix logo.svg
Developer(s) Emmanuel Engelhart,
Renaud Gaudin
Preview release
0.9 / November 1, 2014; 2 years ago (2014-11-01)[1]
Development status Active
Operating system Windows, macOS, Linux
Platform IA-32, x64
Size 30.6 MB – 106 MB[1]
Available in 100 languages[1]
License GPLv3
Kiwix for Android
Stable release
2.2 / February 28, 2017; 55 days ago (2017-02-28)[1]
Operating system Android
Size 6.2 MB
Kiwix for iOS
Original author(s) Emmanuel Engelhart, Renaud Gaudin
Stable release
1.0 / August 11, 2015; 20 months ago (2015-08-11)[2]
Operating system iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, macOS
Size 48.3 MB

Kiwix is a free and open-source offline web browser created by Emmanuel Engelhart and Renaud Gaudin in 2007.[3] It was first launched to allow offline access to Wikipedia, but has since expanded to include other projects from the Wikimedia foundation as well as public domain texts from the Project Gutenberg. Available in more than 100 languages, Kiwix has been included in several high-profile projects, from smuggling operations in North Korea[4] to Google Impact Challenge's recipient Bibliothèques Sans Frontières.[5]


Kiwix's CH Open Source Award (2015)

After becoming a Wikipedia editor in 2004, Emmanuel Engelhart became interested in developing offline versions of Wikipedia. A project to make a Wikipedia CD, initiated in 2003, was a trigger for the project.[3]

In 2012 Kiwix won a grant from Wikimedia France to build kiwix-plug[citation needed], which was deployed in universities in eleven countries in the Afripedia Project.[6][7]

In February 2013 Kiwix won SourceForge's Project of the Month award.[8]

Kiwix won a CH Open Source Award in 2015.[9]


Wikipedia on a USB drive, using Kiwix

The software is designed as an offline reader for web content. It is used on computers without an internet connection, computers with a slow or expensive connection, and to avoid censorship. It can also be used while travelling (e.g. on a plane or train).

Downloading new content files on an early version of Kiwix

Users first download Kiwix, then download content for offline viewing with Kiwix (see picture). Compression saves disk space and bandwidth. All of English-language Wikipedia, with pictures, fits on a USB stick (54 GB as of May 2016, or 16 GB with no pictures).[8][10]

All content files are compressed in ZIM format, which makes them smaller, but leaves them easy to index, search, and selectively decompress.

The ZIM files are then opened with Kiwix, which looks and behaves like a web browser. Kiwix offers full text search, tabbed navigation and the option to export articles to PDF and HTML.[1]

There is an HTTP server version called kiwix-serve; this allows a computer to host Kiwix content, and make it available to other computers on a network.[11] The other computers see an ordinary website. kiwix-plug is a version for plug computers[8] which is often used to provide a wifi server.[12]

Kiwix uses the deprecated Mozilla framework localised on,[13] but plans to replace it.[14]

Available content

Reading Wikipedia through Kiwix on a boat in the South Pacific[15]

A list of content available on Kiwix exists; sublists for content in specific languages also exist. Content can be loaded through Kiwix itself (see screenshot).

Since 2014, most Wikipedia versions are available for download in various different languages.[10] The servers are updated every two to six months, depending on the size of the file. For English Wikipedia, a full version containing pictures as well as alternative version containing text only can be downloaded from the archive. This allows users to save disk space and bandwidth while downloading.

Besides Wikipedia, content from the Wikimedia foundation such as Wikisource, Wikiquote, Wikivoyage, Wikibooks and Wikiversity are available for offline viewing in various different languages.[16]

In November 2014 a ZIM version of all open texts forming part of Project Gutenberg was made available.[17][18]

Besides public domain content, works licensed under a Creative Commons license are available for download. For example, offline versions of the Ubuntu wiki containing user documentation for the Ubuntu operating system,[19] ZIM editions of TED conference talks[20] and videos from Crash Course are available in the Kiwix archive as ZIM file formats.[21]


One Laptop per Child deploys Kiwix
Locations of 13 universities where Kiwix was deployed as part of the Afripedia Project
A Raspberry Pi, with wi-fi dongle and a Powerbank, used to serve Kiwix in Tanzania

As a software development project, Kiwix itself is not directly involved in deployment projects. However, Wikimedia or third party organisations use the software as a component of their own projects. Examples include:

  • Universities and libraries that can't afford broadband Internet access.[22]
    • The Afripedia Project set up kiwix servers in French-speaking universities (some of them with no Internet access) in 11 African countries.[23]
  • Schools[24] in developing countries, where access to the internet is difficult or too expensive.[8]
    • Kiwix is installed on the computers used for the One Laptop per Child project.[3]
    • Kiwix has been installed on Raspberry Pis for use in schools with no electricity in Tanzania [25] by the Tanzania Development Trust.
    • Kiwix was installed on tablets in schools in Mali in the MALebooks project[26]
    • The Fondation Orange has used kiwix-serve in its own technological knowledge product they have deployed in Africa.[27]
  • Schools in the developed world
    • A special version for the organisation SOS-Kinderdorf was developed, initially for developing countries, but it is also used in the developed world.
  • At sea and in other remote areas.[8][28]
    • Aboard ship in Antarctic waters.[29]
    • Kiwix is included in Navigatrix, a Linux distribution for people on boats [30][31]
  • On a train or plane.[8][32]
  • In jail.[8][22]
    • Wikimedia CH has deployed Kiwix in many jails in Switzerland[33]


Kiwix can be installed on a desktop computer as a stand-alone program through the Kiwix webpage.

Package managers and app stores

Kiwix was formerly available in the native package managers of some Linux distributions. However, Kiwix is currently not available in most package databases, due to XULRunner, a program on which Kiwix depends, being deprecated by Mozilla and removed from the package databases.[34] Kiwix is available in the Sugar and ArchLinux Linux distributions. It is also available on Android.

The Kiwix Linux Packaging Project aims to get Kiwix into Linux package databases; it is currently seeking 10 000 Swiss francs and an SSL security certificate.[14]

Kiwix is available on GooglePlay [35] and iTunes.[36]


Founder Emmanuel Engelhart sees Wikipedia as a common good, saying “The contents of Wikipedia should be available for everyone! Even without Internet access. This is why I have launched the Kiwix project. Our users are all over the world: sailors on the oceans, poor students thirsty for knowledge, globetrotters almost living in planes, world’s citizens suffering from censorship or free minded prisoners. For all these people, Kiwix provides a simple and practical solution to ponder about the world.”[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Kiwix". SourceForge. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Kiwix iTunes page
  3. ^ a b c d Joe Sutherland: Emmanuel Engelhart, Inventor of Kiwix: the Offline Wikipedia Browser. In: Wikimedia Blog. 12. September 2014. Accessed on 26 November 2014.
  4. ^ "The plot to free North Korea with smuggled episodes of "Friends"". Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  5. ^ "Les Lauréats du Google Impact Challenge". Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  6. ^ Citazine article on Afripedia (in French)
  7. ^ Traoré, Kardiatou. "Afripédia : un projet de promotion de Wikipédia en Afrique". Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g "Kiwix Aims to spread Wikipedia's Reach". 2013-02-04. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  9. ^ "OSS Awards küren Schweizer Open-Source-Projekte". Netzwoche. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  10. ^ a b "Content in all languages - Kiwix". Retrieved 2016-08-08. 
  11. ^ Kiwix-serve
  12. ^ "Kiwix-plug - Kiwix". Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  13. ^ "Translating:Kiwix -". Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  14. ^ a b "Linux Packaging project - Kiwix". Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  15. ^ Sailing the South Pacific
  16. ^ Zim archive for Kiwix
  17. ^ Emmanuel Engelhart: 50.000 public domain books available to everybody, everywhere, offline. In: Wikisource-l-Mailinglist. 19. November 2014. Accessed on 26 November 2014.
  18. ^ "Words and what not: #Wikimedia & Project #Gutenberg - the sum of all knowledge". Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  19. ^ Ubuntuusers Hilfsmittel
  20. ^ Kiwix archive for TED
  21. ^ Kiwix archive for additional content
  22. ^ a b "Main Page - Kiwix". Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  23. ^ "Afripedia project increasing off-line access to Wikipedia in Africa". Wikimedia blog. Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  24. ^ "(fr) ASRI Education may 2013" (in French). Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  25. ^ "Raspberry Pi in Masekelo: Bringing Wikipedia to a school without electricity". Wikimedia blog. Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  26. ^ "Children in Mali can now read Wikipedia offline, thanks to MALebooks e-readers". Wikimedia blog. Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  27. ^ Fondation Orange: le programme "écoles numériques"
  28. ^ "Sailing the South Pacific with a copy of Wikipedia on board: The Goodall Family". Wikimedia blog. Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  29. ^ "Hans Oleander: Using offline Wikipedia to guide tours at the bottom of the Earth". Wikimedia blog. Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  30. ^ " - A Voyager's Companion". Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  31. ^ "Navigatrix – the first Linux distribution for cruisers". Your Cruising Editor. Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  32. ^ Amarilli, Antoine. "A local copy of Wikipedia with Kiwix - a3nm's blog". Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  33. ^ Offline online, Annabelle, September 2014
  34. ^ "Debian - Kiwix". Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  35. ^ "Kiwix, Wikipedia offline - Android Apps on Google Play". Retrieved 2016-03-08. 
  36. ^ "Kiwix on the App Store". App Store. Retrieved 2016-03-08. 

External links

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