How to set up a Raspberry Hotspot with Kiwix

About the Hotspot

The Kiwix Hotspot installer is a free application that turns a Raspberry Pi into a WiFi Hotspot that serves web content to a local network without Internet access. You will need only basic technical knowledge since everything installed automatically. You can then browse all content downloaded from the Kiwix library on a private, local network.

    What you will need

    To follow this tutorial you will need:

    • a computer (Windows, macOS or GNU/Linux) with an SD card reader and at least as much free disk space as your card’s storage capacity;
    • a microSD card.

    We recommend using a high quality SD card. This will make your Hotspot more reliable and faster, and it will extend the life span of your SD card. SanDisk has performed best in our experience.

    The required storage capacity of the SD card depends on the content and software you plan to provide. 32 GB is a good starting point for a selection of smaller content packages. But if you plan to store Wikipedia in English or Project Gutenberg on your card, you will need 128 GB or even more.

    To avoid problems please make sure your SD card is properly formatted and empty. Formatting the card before installing or re-installing Kiwix Hotspot is a good practice (although the installer will try to do this as well). When in doubt, use ExFAT as the file system.

    Downloading the installer

    Installer
    Operating System
    kiwix-hotspot-linux.tar.gz GNU/Linux
    kiwix-hotspot-macos.dmg Apple macOS
    kiwix-hotspot-win64.exe Microsoft Windows (64 Bit)

     

    Kiwix Hotspot Main Screen

    After sucessfully launching the Hotspot Installer you will see its main screen.

    KIWIX Pibox Installer main screen

    Here you can configure a couple of things:

    Parameter
    Description
    Pibox name This name will be used for the SSID of your WiFi network.
    Favicon Needs to be in PNG format. (On a Mac you may choose a JPEG file as well.)
    Logo Needs to be in PNG format. (On a Mac you may choose a JPEG file as well.)
    Language The language of your Raspbian operating system as well as of the webpage that is presented when someone connects to your Hotspot.
    OpenWiFi If switched to «on», no password is needed to connect to the Kiwix Hotspot through WiFi. This is the default and recommended setting since a Hotspot usually distributes only freely available content.
    Preset Admin Account If switched to «on», you are able to enter a username and password for the admin area of your Hotspot.
    Timezone The timezone of your Raspbian operating system.
    Build path The working directory for the Pibox Installer. This is the place where the disk image created during the process will be stored. This disk image has about the size of your SD card’s storage capacity, so choose a directory on a drive with enough free space.
    Output Choose if the Pibox Installer will copy its output to the SD card or only create the disk image file.
    SD card Select the SD card. Hit the «Refresh» button if you don’t see your card (for example if you have inserted the card after starting the Pibox Installer).
    Free Space Indicates the space available for content and applications on the selected SD card.
    Static content Select the content you want to install on your Hotspot (for example Wikipedia, Wikibooks or Wiktionary). Clicking «Select» will open the Content Selector.
    EduPi Installs the EduPi document storage system on your Hotspot.
    KA Lite Installs the Khan Academy. Choose your preferred language(s).
    WikiFundi Installs WikiFundi, the offline editing tool for Wikipedia. Choose your preferred language(s).
    Aflatoun Installs Aflatoun on your Hotspot.

    Content Selector

    The content selector allows you to choose content packages (zim files) to be installed on your Kiwix Hotspot.

    First, choose your preferred language to see only packages in that language.

    Then highlight each package you want to include and hit ENTER to add it to your list of selected packages. Packages with a red background are too big to fit on your SD card and can’t be added.

    To remove a package from your list, simply highlight it and hit ENTER.

    KIWIX Pibox Installer content selector

    After you made your selection, click the «Done» button to return to the main screen.

     Installer Status Window

    Once you’ve made your choices, click on «Run installation» in the main screen. This will bring up the Installer Status Window.

    This window allows you to see what KIWIX Hotspot is doing.

    IMPORTANT

    Creating a Kiwix Hotspot can take several hours. Do not interrupt the process, even if you have the impression that there is nothing going on. Wait for the dialog box telling you that the process is complete. Make also sure that your computer does not go into sleep mode.

    After you see the confirmation message that the process has finished sucessfully you may close the Installer app and remove the SD card from your computer.

    Using your Kiwix Hotspot

    Insert the SD card into your Raspberry Pi, connect it to the power supply and let it boot (takes a minute or two).

    Connect your notebook computer, tablet or smartphone to the WiFi network with the name you chose during the installation process.

    Open your web browser and type the following address into the address bar: http://<name>.hotspot (where <name> is the Project Name you used in the installer (same as the WiFi network). As an alternative you may use http://goto.kiwix.hotspot which brings you to the same page. Note that most browsers now default to https, so you really need to type the full http:// part.

    You are now ready to use the presented resources. Enjoy!