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ZIM tools

Various ZIM command line tools. More information about the ZIM format and the openZIM project.

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zimwriterfs is a console tool to create ZIM files from a locally-stored directory containing "self-sufficient" HTML content (with pictures, javascript and stylesheets). The result will contain all the files of the local directory compressed and merged in the ZIM file. Nothing more, nothing less. The generated file can be opened with a ZIM reader; Kiwix is one example, but there are others.

Packaging status


Tagged source code and prebuilt Linux x86-64 binaries can be found at:


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


Most of the utilities that form the zim-tools programs rely on libzim:

  • ZIM (package libzim-dev on Debian/Ubuntu)

zimdump additionally requires:

  • docopt.cpp (package libdocopt-dev on Debian/Ubuntu)

zimwriterfs relies on many third-party software libraries. They are prerequisites to compiling zimwriterfs. The following libraries need to be available:

  • Magic (package libmagic-dev on Debian/Ubuntu)
  • Z (package zlib1g-dev on Debian/Ubuntu)
  • Gumbo (package libgumbo-dev on Debian/Ubuntu)
  • ICU (package libicu-dev 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. The compilation script will tell you if one of them is missing or too old. In the worst case, you will have to download and compile a more recent version by hand.

If you want to install these dependencies locally, then ensure that meson (through pkg-config) will properly find them.


The ZIM tools build using Meson version 0.43 or higher. Meson relies itself on Ninja, pkg-config and few other compilation tools.

Install first the few common compilation tools:

  • Meson
  • Ninja
  • Pkg-config

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 ZIM tools 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 -Dstatic-linkage=true option to the Meson command.

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


To run the automated tests:

cd build
meson test


If you want to install the ZIM tools 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 ZIM tools:

ninja -C build uninstall

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


A Docker image with zimwriterfs can be built from the docker directory. The project maintains an official image available at


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 LICENSE for more details.

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