How to set up KIWIX Hotspot

About KIWIX Hotspot

KIWIX Hotspot (formerly known as KIWIX Pibox Installer) is a free, user-friendly application that transforms a Raspberry Pi computer into a WiFi Hotspot that serves web content to a local network without Internet access. You will need only basic technical knowledge since everything is downloaded and installed automatically. KIWIX Hotspot runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux alike.

To follow this tutorial you will need:

  • a computer (running Windows, macOS or GNU/Linux) with a card reader and at least as much free disk space as your SD card’s storage capacity
  • an empty SD or microSD card (depending on the Raspberry Pi version/model you plan to use); see the remarks below about choosing the right card

Choosing the right SD card

First of all you have to decide whether you need a standard SD card or a microSD card. This depends on the version/model of your Raspberry Pi. (If you are unsure, please check this table of specifications.)

We recommend using a high quality SD card. This will make your KIWIX Hotspot more reliable and faster, and it will extend the life span of your SD card.

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.

Downloading the installer

Go to https://download.kiwix.org/release/kiwix-hotspot/ and open the subfolder with the most recent version.

Download the installer according to the operating system you will use to prepare the SD card for your Raspberry Pi:  

Installer
Operating System
kiwix-hotspot-linux.tar.gz GNU/Linux
kiwix-hotspot-macos.dmg Apple macOS
kiwix-hotspot-win32.exe Microsoft Windows (32 Bit)
kiwix-hotspot-win64.exe Microsoft Windows (64 Bit)

Installing the installer on Windows

Double-click the installer kiwix-hotspot-win32.exe or kiwix-hotspot-win64.exe.

Depending on a) the Windows version you are running, b) your security settings and c) the anti-virus software you have installed, you may get a couple of warnings. Skip these warnings by confirming that you trust this application.

Preparing your SD card

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.

KIWIX Hotspot Main Screen

After sucessfully launching KIWIX Hotspot you will see its main screen. (Please note: The screenshots on this page are taken from an older version of the software.)

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 KIWIX 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 KIWIX 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 KIWIX 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 be installed in your KIWIX Hotspot (for example Wikipedia, Wikibooks or Wictionary). Clicking «Select» will open the Content Selector (see below).
EduPi Allows you to have EduPi installed on your KIWIX Hotspot.
KA Lite Allows you to have content from the Khan Academy installed on your KIWIX Hotspot. Choose your preferred language(s).
WikiFundi Allows you to have WikiFundi installed on your KIWIX Hotspot. Choose your preferred language(s).
Aflatoun Allows you to have Aflatoun installed on your KIWIX Hotspot.

Content Selector

The content selector allows you to choose content packages to be installed on your KIWIX Hotspot.

First, choose your preferred language to see only packages of 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 KIXIX 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 KIWIX Hotspot 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.

You should now see the KIWIX Hotspot homepage which looks similar to this:

Homepage of the KIWIX Plug local webserver

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