The event took place over Zoom, everything went smoothly thanks to the ever-efficient Ruby (seconded by Eugene and Jael). This hour-long meeting turned to 90 minutes of discussions, which is testament to the participants enthusiasm (and their need for answers.
Took down some notes while questions were flying, putting them here for posterity (and in case some missed them because they were late or had bad connectivity):
Is Kiwix available in Nigeria?
It is only as soon as Nigerians are willing to use it. Same for any other country. Kiwix is free software, so don’t ask for permission: use it, and keep us posted on how things are going (Kiwix does not manage deployments itself).
How can we digitize new content?
The question came back several time under one form or another throughout the call. There are several ways:
- Try Zimit (https://www.youzim.it) it is an out-of-the box solution where people enter the target’s URL and get a notification when their zim file is ready
- If the content is freely licensed, open a zim request on Github
We will soon release additional software to build file collections or Wikipedia selections. Stay tuned!
Can I get notified when my file is ready?
If you are using Zimit and left your email address, you should normally get a notification when the file is ready to download. No need to keep your browser window open. But you can also sneak behind the curtain and check out the queue here.
I downloaded a file via zimit and can’t access it on my computer. I get an error message (“Service workers are not supported here”)
Currently Kiwix-desktop is not equipped to read zimit files. But there is a workaround… on Kiwix-desktop. Simply start Kiwix-server (first item in the top-right menu) and this will open your browser. And voilà!
(For those curious, it is because Kiwix-server is a separate and very different piece of software that is packaged with Kiwix-desktop. It was not planned for this situation, but that’s as good as a workaround we have at the moment. A fix is planned for late 2023)
Is there a device to help with local deployments?
Yes! Kiwix can actually run on Raspberry Pi microservers: these will create a local wi-fi Kiwix network that people can connect to and use to access everything that is stored on the pi. A device costs around 100-200 USD (depending on the country) and can serve up to 32 people at the same time. To build the image configuration and pick content from the Kiwix catalogue there is a (paid) online dashboard or a free linux tool.
I see Wikipedia files that have different sizes: how come?
The short answer is : to make it easier to download if you don’t have space / bandwidth. Maxi will be the full content. Nopic means that pictures have been removed (making for a 50% smaller file). Mini is a version that only has the intro and infobox (and is 90% smaller): Wikimedia Foundation research found that 60% of readers had found what they needed in this part alone, so we figure it was good value to offer.
I am looking for some specific content in the library (e.g. things related to maths), but it’s hard to find
We have no categorization for the time being, but yes that will be done at some point.
Will there be incremental updates so that I don’t have to download the full Wikipedia, but just the new parts?
It’s in the works, but that is a rather complex endeavour (I made the comparison of trying to pack and unpack DNA on one’s phone; that’s about right).
Where does the Kiwix name come from?
We started with Wikipedia. Wiki > Kiwi > Kiwix. Looks cooler with an X, I guess.
Downloading is difficult for people with limited access. How can we improve this?
There always will be this bottleneck. The best way to ensure the download continues even if the connection breaks at some point is to download the torrent files rather than use direct download. Go to library.kiwix.org, pick your content, and select “torrent file”. Transmission is a good and free torrent manager that we recommend.
Can we run tests or assessments after a class is being given off Kiwix material?
The only thing Kiwix does is copy existing content. If the website had a quiz, then it will be there. But we won’t create it on our side.
Any hardware recommendation for tablets?
Anything that runs android 7 and above should be able to run Kiwix. Older android versions are not supported, and we usually move one notch every year or two (the most recent android version is 12 or 13, so there’s some margin).
It would be useful to have a central distribution point, someone who has a copy and can distribute it locally so people don’t have to try and connect.
Yes. Anyone can do it, and they should. In Cuba there is such a thing at el Paquete semanal: someone downloads a bunch of content (incl. Kiwix) on hard drives, and then rents them for about a 1 dollar so as to cover the cost.
Kiwix-desktop picked up that my OS is italian, but I actually want to see French content.
On the left-hand side, click on “Browse by language” and select French.
What if I only want some articles from Wikipedia. Can I choose?
We will soon release Wikipedia on demand, that does just that.
What is the update rate for content?
About every month or so.
Are there any hardware limitations for the Raspberry Pi
Not really. Anything that is less than 5 years old should run Kiwix no problem. Beware that the Pi Zero / W as well as the Pi 3B+ may have issues playing too many videos at the same time. The Zero can also only serve 5 people or so, and may overload if you try to push the full English Wikipedia on it (in which case simply restart it).
Search is not very good: if I look for “contemporary history” I will have results that are somewhat off the mark. Any plans for that?
Search is complicated to run phone (or computer)-side. There is a reason Google does it on big-ass computers. You need to be as precise with your query as can be so as to hit on the exact article name.