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Kiwix tools

The Kiwix tools is a collection of Kiwix related command line tools:

  • kiwix-manage: Manage XML based library of ZIM files
  • kiwix-search: Full text search in ZIM files
  • kiwix-serve: HTTP daemon serving ZIM files

latest release Repositories Docker Docker Sandstorm Build Status Doc CodeFactor License: GPL v3


This document assumes you have a little knowledge about software compilation. If you experience difficulties with the dependencies or with the Kiwix tools compilation itself, we recommend to have a look to kiwix-build.


Although the Kiwix tools can be compiled/cross-compiled on/for many systems, the following documentation explains how to do it on POSIX ones. It is primarily thought for GNU/Linux systems and has been tested on recent releases of Debian/Ubuntu and Fedora.


The Kiwix tools rely on a few third party software libraries. They are prerequisites to the Kiwix tools compilation. Therefore, following libraries need to be available:

  • libkiwix (package libkiwix on Debian/Ubuntu)
  • libzim (package libzim on Debian/Ubuntu)

These dependencies may or may not be packaged by your operating system. They may also be packaged but only in an older version. They may be also packaged but without providing a static version. The compilation script will tell you if one of them is missing or too old. In the worse case, you will have to download and compile bleeding edge version by hand.

If you want to install these dependencies locally, then use the kiwix-tools directory as install prefix.

If you want to compile Kiwix tools statically, the dependencies should be compiled statically (provide a lib...a library), for example by using --enable-static with ./configure.


The Kiwix tools build using Meson version 0.43 or higher. Meson relies itself on Ninja, pkg-config and a few other compilation tools. Install them first:

These tools should be packaged if you use a cutting edge operating system. If not, have a look to the Troubleshooting section.


Once all dependencies are installed, you can compile Kiwix tools with:

meson . build
ninja -C build

By default, it will compile dynamic linked libraries. If you want statically linked libraries, you can add -Dstatic-linkage=true option to the Meson command.

Depending of you system, ninja may be called ninja-build.


If you want to install the Kiwix tools, here we go:

ninja -C build install

You might need to run the command as root (or using sudo), depending on where you want to install the Kiwix tools. After the installation succeeded, you may need to run ldconfig (as root).


If you want to uninstall the Kiwix tools:

ninja -C build uninstall

Like for the installation, you might need to run the command as root (or using sudo).


An official Docker image of the Kiwix tools can be found on GHCR. A kiwix-serve dedicated Docker image exists too.


If you need to install Meson "manually":

virtualenv -p python3 ./ # Create virtualenv
source bin/activate      # Activate the virtualenv
pip3 install meson       # Install Meson
hash -r                  # Refresh bash paths

If you need to install Ninja "manually":

git clone git://
cd ninja
git checkout release
./ --bootstrap
mkdir ../bin
cp ninja ../bin
cd ..

If the compilation still fails, you might need to get a more recent version of a dependency than the one packaged by your Linux distribution. Try then with a source tarball distributed by the problematic upstream project or even directly from the source code repository.


GPLv3 or later, see COPYING for more details.