Offline Projects/Reports/June 2020
Report published on Wikimedia Affiliates Data Portal August 30th 2020 by Anthere
Objectives of the UserGroup
There have been many efforts to distribute offline snapshots to places with little connectivity, via schoolservers, wikireaders, and pocket-sized servers that run on batteries. In 2017, a retreat for offline-wiki developers, users, and deployers was organized by Martin Walker at Potsdam University. In addition, Kiwix has organized hackathons for their toolchain and related use cases for many years. This user group is a shared community for people developing any of these offline related initiatives!
This group was formed at the WMCON in 2018 to
- + Consolidate and support offline snapshots of wiki knowledge, and deployments of them in schools, clinics, and rural communities.
- + Update and maintain the offline projects portal on Meta.
- + Advocate for better distribution of and awareness of offline wikis, in all parts of the world where internet access is restricted, expensive, or unavailable: including schools, clinics, prisons, refugee camps, disaster areas.
Activities in 2019-2020
Note: the best place to follow-up activities and news of the group is the mailing list: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/offline-l
- Kiwix is returning to Debian Linux after a 6 year absence. All of the underlying libraries (libzim, libkiwix) have been updated to the latest version, and the desktop Kiwix reader/manager is currently waiting final reviews before it can be included in the next Debian release, expected for summer 2021. Work was done on both the Debian packaging side, as well as in Kiwix to adjust the code to meet Debian's strict requirements. (A blog post/announcement will be made soon once that review is done);
- Additionally, work is under way to maintain a Kiwix Personal Package Archive (PPA) so that Ubuntu/Debian users who want the latest versions can get them immediately and directly from Kiwix, without having to wait for a new major Ubuntu/Debian version release;
- online installer is now live for people to create their own Kiwix hotspot image. The installer allows anyone with a Raspberry to broadcast Wikipedia content (or any content from the Kiwix library + Wikifundi) to 28 or so people simultaneously. There's a small charge for access but Wikimedians only need to ask to get a free pass;
- New major releases: Kiwix-android v3.x; Kiwix-desktop v2.0 (official);
- All platforms have also been updated: Kiwix-serve now displays correctly KaiOS devices ("banana phones", cheap but wifi-enabled feature phones);
- Covid-19: there's been a strong interest in offline content because of the many lockdowns that took place (and continue to take place) during the Spring: the most interesting project so far was when we deployed Kiwix-serve on Orange Telecom's servers in West Africa. 11 markets were impacted, with a maximum load of 100,000 simultaneous users. Content included Khan Academy (en/fr), Wikipedia (en/ar/fr), +Wikisource, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Vikidia and some videos classes from a couple of Youtube Channels;
- The English Wikipedia ZIM was finally updated, after more than 18 months of struggle. This even got a mention in Vice's Motherboard. 100% of Wikimedia zim files are now updated on an almost monthly basis. We need to be better at QA though as we cannot detect yet when smaller projects are closed (and we end up distributing a single-page file with death notice on it :-/ );
- Re-launched the Kiwix blog earlier this Spring so that people can be better informed of what we're up to.
- Annual reports are available here (WMF grant) and here (Kiwix official 2019 AR).
- The education offline initiative in Africa was launched and... then stopped mid-term because of the COVID-19 epidemics (since an offline initiative, it requires to visit schools for training and operations, which was impossible due to travel restrictions and schools close).
- a spin-off (WikiChallenge Bénin) to be run in a partnership with Wiki in Africa, Wikimedia Benin and with the support of Wikimedia CH was designed. It has similarly been suspended till better times.
- The group participated in the 2019 ASBS process
- The group is represented in the Brand Network by Anthere
- The group decided not to answer (as a group) the rebranding survey (Offline Projects/Mouvement Brand Project - too many questions, hence difficult to gather a relevant opinion amongst several members). However, information was provided to the members regarding the rebranding initiative and members were invited to answer the survey individually.
- However, the group agreed to sign the Community open letter on renaming
The partnership between Wikimedia-ZA and Cape Town TV, to develop a smart set-top box which has an offline library including African language Wikipedias, made little progress as the server-side of the operation, where the signal is generated before transmission, is stalled. However the prototype STBs improved by the addition of the browser extension enabling direct access to .zim files.
The UG has been approved in 2018. In Fall 2020, we will make a call for renewal.
Membership in 2019-2020
- Sj (group contact)
- Anthere (group contact)
- Doc James
- AGomez (WMF)
- Abhinav Srivastava
- Shani Evenstein
- Fawaz Tairou
- David Strine
- Mark A. Hershberger
- Daren Welsh
- Dang Brazal
This group was formed at the WMCON in 2018, by implementers in different countries who found one another and realized that we were not coordinating efforts as well as we might -- and did not know the current status of many important offline projects, as these were not gathered in a single place. The UG was subsequently approved Wikimedians for Offline Wikis
Group contacts as of mid 2020
- sj <at> laptop.org
- user:Anthere fdevouard <at> anthere.org