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How to view online content offline on Linux

As strange as this may sound, not everyone has a reliable internet connection in 2019. There are many reasons for this. Perhaps the most common reason for lack of internet access is that internet service providers often neglect rural areas (especially in America). Another reason is that in much of the world, the internet is a luxury, and many people can’t afford to get a private connection at home.

If you’re one of the millions of people in the world that still don’t have a reliable internet connection at home, but have access to a computer running Linux, you’re in luck! As it turns out, it is possible to view thousands of websites offline, anywhere in the world without an internet connection, thanks to the Kiwix offline web browser! Here’s how to set it up.

Note: Kiwix can also be installed on Microsoft Windows or Mac OS. For information on how to get it for these other platforms, visit the official website.

Install Kiwix on Linux

Kiwix for Linux is distributed in two ways: a downloadable AppImage file which can run on every Linux OS without the need to install libraries and packages from any software repositories, and as a Flatpak package from the Flathub application store.

For the most part, the safest way to go about getting Kiwix is via the Flatpak release, as the program is sandboxed, locked down, and much more secure. However, the AppImage version is also an excellent way to go. To start the installation process, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, follow the command-line instructions that match the Linux OS you use.

Flatpak

The first step in installing Kiwix from the Flathub app store is to enable the Flatpak runtime. To enable the runtime, install the “flatpak” package from the place you typically install software on your Linux PC.

Note: need help setting up the Flatpak runtime on your Linux system? Check out our in-depth guide on how to set up Flatpak here.

With the Flatpak runtime up and running, use the following commands below in a terminal window to download and install the Kiwix package to your Linux computer.

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
flatpak install flathub org.kiwix.desktop

AppImage

Getting the Kiwix AppImage release working on a Linux computer starts by creating a folder known as “AppImages” in the home directory (~), to keep the AppImage file. Using the mkdir command, create it.

mkdir -p AppImages

After making the new “AppImages” folder in the home directory, use the wget command to download the Kiwix AppImage file to it.

cd ~/AppImages
wget https://download.kiwix.org/release/kiwix-desktop/kiwix-desktop_x86_64.appimage

Update the permissions of the AppImage file using the chmod command.

chmod +x kiwix-desktop_x86_64.appimage

With the permissions up to date, you can run the app for the first time with:

./kiwix-desktop_x86_64.appimage

View online content offline

Viewing content offline with the Kiwix application means that users need to download websites ahead of time over the internet. Downloading is done through the library function of Kiwix, and loads of sites are available for instant download.

To download content through Kiwix, start by opening up the browser on the desktop. Once the application is open and ready to use, you’ll see a blank tab. On this empty tab, there are a few items. These items are “Local Files,” “All Files,” “Browse By Language,” Browse By Category,” as well as a search box, and a few other things.

All free, downloadable content available to the public via Kiwix is located in the “All Files” section. We’ll focus on this section in the tutorial only. However, it’s possible to add your content to Kiwix too.

Select the “All  Files” button on the top-left section of the new tab screen to be taken to the vast list of downloadable content available. After that, scroll through the massive list of content until you find something you’d like to view offline and click the blue “Download” button to start the downloading process.

Once a file from “Local Files” is downloaded, you’ll be able to access it anywhere online or offline, by clicking the “Open” button. Downloads will stay in “All Files” forever unless deleted.

Download by size

A lot of the available websites in Kiwix are massive. Some go as far as 10 GB! For this reason, you may want to know how to sort big downloads and small ones.

To sort files by smallest for download, make your way to “All Files.” Then, find the “Size” column and click it. Selecting this should automatically place the smallest file downloads first, and largest ones at the bottom.

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