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The Libkiwix provides the Kiwix software suite core. It contains the code shared by all Kiwix ports (Windows, GNU/Linux, macOS, Android, iOS, ...).

Release Repositories Build Status Doc CodeFactor Codecov License: GPL v3


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


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


The Libkiwix relies on many third party software libraries. They are prerequisites to the Libkiwix compilation. Following libraries need to be available:

  • ICU (package libicu-dev on Ubuntu)
  • ZIM (package libzim-dev on Ubuntu)
  • Pugixml (package libpugixml-dev on Ubuntu)
  • Mustache (Just copy the header mustache.hpp somewhere it can be found by the compiler and/or set CPPFLAGS with correct -I option). Use Mustache version 4.1 or above.
  • Libcurl (libcurl4-gnutls-dev, libcurl4-nss-dev or libcurl4-openssl-dev on Ubuntu)
  • Microhttpd (package libmicrohttpd-dev on Ubuntu)
  • Zlib (package zlib1g-dev on Ubuntu)

To test the code:

The following dependency needs to be available at runtime:

  • Aria2 (package aria2 on Ubuntu)

These dependencies may or may not be packaged by your operating system. They may also be packaged but only in an older 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 libkiwix directory as install prefix.


The Libkiwix builds using Meson version 0.45 or higher. Meson relies itself on Ninja, pkg-config and few other compilation tools.

Install first the few common compilation tools:

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 the Libkiwix with:

meson . build
ninja -C build

By default, it will compile dynamic linked libraries. All binary files will be created in the build directory created automatically by Meson. If you want statically linked libraries, you can add --default-library=static option to the Meson command.

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

The android wrapper uses deprecated methods of libkiwix so it cannot be compiled with werror=true (the default). So you must pass -Dwerror=false to meson:

meson . build -Dwrapper=android -Dwerror=false
ninja -C build

Static files compilation

Libkiwix has a few static files 'compiled' within the binary code. This is mostly Javascript/HTML/pictures necessary for the HTTP daemon.

These static files are available in the static directory and are compiled by custom Python code available in this repository scripts directory. This happens automatically at compilation time without any additional command to run.

To avoid HTTP caching issues, the URLs (to the static content) are appended with a cacheid parameter (this is called "cache busting"). This cacheid value derived from the sha1sum of each targeted static file. As a consequence, each time you change a static file, the corresponding cacheid value will change.

To properly test this feature, this cacheid needs to be added manually to the automated tests and has to be commited. After modifying the needed static file, run the automated tests. They will fail, but the inspection of the testing log will give you the new cacheid value(s). Finally update test/server.cpp with the appropriate cacheid value(s) which have changed.


To run the automated tests:

cd build
meson test


If you want to install the Libkiwix and the headers you just have compiled on your system, here we go:

ninja -C build install

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


If you want to uninstall the Kiwix library:

ninja -C build uninstall

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

Custom Index Page

to use custom welcome page mention customIndexPage argument in kiwix::internalServer() or use kiwix::server->setCustomIndexTemplate(). (note - while using custom html file please mention all external links as absolute path.)

to create a HTML template with custom JS you need to have a look at various OPDS based endpoints as mentioned here to load books.

To use JS provided by kiwix-serve you can use the following template to start with ->

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html xmlns="">
    <meta charset="UTF-8" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width,initial-scale=1" />
    <title><-- Custom Tittle --></title>
    <script src="{{root}}/skin/isotope.pkgd.min.js" defer></script>
    <script src="{{root}}/skin/iso6391To3.js"></script>
    <script type="text/javascript" src="{{root}}/skin/index.js" defer></script>
  • To get books listed using index.js add - <div class="book__list"></div> under body tag.
  • To get number of books listed add - <h3 class="kiwixHomeBody__results"></h3> under body tag.
  • To add language select box add - <select id="languageFilter"></select> under body tag.
  • To add category select box add - <select id="categoryFilter"></select> under body tag.
  • To add search box for books use following form -
        <form id='kiwixSearchForm'>
        <input type="text" name="q" placeholder="Search" id="searchFilter" class='kiwixSearch filter'>
        <input type="submit" class="kiwixButton" value="Search"/>

If you compile manually Libmicrohttpd, you might need to compile it without GNU TLS, a bug here will empeach further compilation otherwise.

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.


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 ..


GPLv3 or later, see COPYING for more details.