Wifi kiosk

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This page is a HOWTO to create a Kiwix Wifi kiosk, a simple wifi hotspot which allow user to surf on Wikipedia using kiwix-serve and also provide all necessary files to download.


Almost all hardware may be able to help to build such a wifi hotspot. We use a small PC based on a x86 and using a USB wifi dongle. To install Debian on the computer, we use an additional USB HD.

OS Installation

Install unetbootin and start it. unetbootin propose you to install a debian unstable netinstall on your USB key, do it. Boot your target computer on the usb key and install Debian choosing the options "Web server" and "SSH server".

Install additional packages

You should now be able to connect to you computer using SSH, you may consequently to all the next steps remotly. Install the following packags : wireless-tools, dnsmasq Check that you wirelss card is correctly recognized.

Configuration network

Add to the /etc/network/interfaces

# wlan
auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet static
wireless-essid KIWIX
wireless-mode ad-hoc

Try to start the interface with: ifconfig wlan0 up

Configuration of DNS & DHCP

Enable the option in /etc/dnsmasq.conf :

  • bogus-priv
  • address = /#/
  • interface=wlan0
  • dhcp-range=,,1h

At this moment you should be able to freely connect to the KIWIX hotspot and your web browser should display for any request the default Apache web page.

Install kiwix-serve with content

Compile and install kiwix-serve or install it from a package.

Choose the content (ZIM file) you want to serve and index it with kiwix-index.

Start kiwix-serve on the port 4201. So you should be typing on your client http://kiwix:4201 get the page served by kiwix-serve.

Add the kiwix-serve to the init.d following this documentation.

Integrate kiwix-serve ..

..using Apache with mod_proxy

  • Activate mod_proxy with "a2enmod proxy proxy_http rewrite"
  • Create a vhost for kiwix in the file /etc/apache2/sites-available/kiwix like the following.
<VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerName kiwix
        DocumentRoot /var/www/kiwix/

        RewriteEngine On
        RewriteRule   ^/(.{1}/.*)$  /wp/$1  [R]
        RewriteRule   ^/(search?.*)$  /wp/$1  [R]

        <Location /wp/>
        ProxyPass http://kiwix:4201/
        SetEnv force-proxy-request-1.0 1
        SetEnv proxy-nokeepalive 1
  • Change /etc/apache2/sites-available/default, add the following lines:
<Ifmodule mod_alias.c>
	RedirectMatch permanent /(.*)$ http://kiwix/
  • Create the directory /var/www/kiwix and an empty file /var/www/kiwix/index.html
  • Create a symbolic link in /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/ and reload Apache.

..using Nginx

Nginx is faster and less resources consuming than Apache in this scenario. This step is an alternative to using Apache, if you installed it just for kiwix, you might as well remove Apache.

  • Install nginx: sudo apt-get install nginx
  • Choose between one of the two samples below and save as /etc/nginx/sites-available/default
server_name localhost kiwix;
root /var/www/kiwix;
location /wp {
  rewrite /wp/(.*) /$1 break;
  proxy_pass        http://localhost:4201;
  proxy_set_header  X-Real-IP  $remote_addr;
rewrite ^/(.)/(.*)$ /wp/$1/$2 last;
rewrite ^/search(.*)$ /wp/search$1 last;
error_page   404 = /;
#limit_rate       50k;
#limit_rate_after 4k;
limit_conn_zone  $server_name        zone=perserver:1m;
limit_conn_zone  $binary_remote_addr zone=perip:1m;
limit_req_zone   $binary_remote_addr zone=four:1m rate=4r/s;

# Default server configuration, proxying requests to a kiwix-serve instance running on port 4201
# - add zim files to a library.xml, see http://www.kiwix.org/wiki/Kiwix-manage
# chown www-data *.zim library.xml
# - then start kiwix-serve (uses dropped privileges, like nginx itself):
# sudo -u www-data -g adm bash -c 'kiwix-serve --port=4201 --library library.xml &>/dev/null &'
server {
        # comment next three lines if connection or request rate limits are not needed
        limit_conn perserver 80;
        limit_conn perip 2;
        limit_req  zone=four burst=160;

        listen 80 default_server;
        #listen [::]:80 default_server;
        port_in_redirect off;

        server_name localhost kiwix;
        root /var/www/kiwix;

        # Add index.php to the list if you are using PHP
        index index.html index.htm index.nginx-debian.html;

        error_page 400 404 =444 /dropconn_444;
        if ($request_method !~ ^(GET|HEAD)$) { return 444; }
        location = /dropconn_444 { return 444; }

        location = /favicon.ico {
          access_log off;

        location = /robots.txt {
          access_log off;
          return 200 "User-Agent: *
Allow: /index.html
Disallow: /

        location ~ ^/([^/]*_all_|mw|random|search|skin|suggest)(.*)$ {
          # Choose these links as "Home" pages within respective wikis (adjust to your needs)
          rewrite ^(/wikipedia_de_all_nopic_2014-11)/$ $1/A/Würmeiszeit.html break;
          rewrite ^(/rezeptewiki_de_all_2014-06)/$ $1/A/html/L/ä/u/t/Läuterzucker.html break;

          # Skip logging certain uris (each tex formula is a png in zim files..)
          if ($request_uri ~ ^/(mw|random|search|skin|suggest)|.(jpe?g|png)$) {
            access_log off;

          proxy_set_header  X-Real-IP  $remote_addr;
        rewrite ^/wp14/(.*)$ /wikipedia_de_all_nopic_2014-11/A/$1.html last;
        rewrite ^/wp/$ /_all_ last;

        location / {
          # For "Library" link of Kiwix Server to work (adjust HOSTNAME to your.setup.tld)
          valid_referers "~(localhost|kiwix|HOSTNAME|([0-9]+.){3}[0-9]+)(|:[0-9]+)/[^/]*_all_";
          if ($invalid_referer != 1) {
            rewrite .* /_all_ last;

          # First attempt to serve request as file, then
          # as directory, then fall back to displaying a 404.
          expires 0s;
          try_files $uri $uri/ =404;

Now you should get the kiwix-serve rendered page by typing http://kiwix/wp/ You should also consider to compress and delay writing to the nginx access.log file for performance reasons. The following entry in nginx.conf will gzip compress and flush log data in 15 minute intervals only:

access_log /var/log/nginx/access.log combined gzip=9 flush=15m;

If you do not care for repeating entries of success messages use access_log off; directive as shown above to filter out some access patterns from being logged. For further refinements see nginx docs.

Welcome pages

Create your welcome pages in HTML under /var/www/kiwix/index.html - here is a stub:

  <title>Kiwix Wifi Kiosk</title>
<li><a href="/wp/">Surf on Wikipedia</a></li>
<li><a href="http://www.kiwix.org/wiki/Software/">Download Kiwix</a></li>
<li><a href="http://www.kiwix.org/wiki/Content_in_all_languages">Download Wikipedia</a></li>


See also