These days the internet may feel pretty ubiquitous. I mean, you’re reading this online, right? But whether you’re traveling, deployed on a submarine, or simply living in a rural area, access to the internet is not guaranteed.
Years ago, iFixit used to provide DVDs of every single iFixit guide in PDF form. These DVDs were quite popular but hard to maintain, especially with the ever increasing number of guides that were being published to the site. Eventually the DVDs were no longer updated and the offline initiative was put on pause.
A decade later, the Internet is becoming increasingly available in different parts of the world, and because of this, I felt the need to restart this original effort.
I had a flaky Internet connection for many years, and I know how frustrating it can be to not be able to access online content because you don’t have a strong stable connection. Luckily, I now have a fiber connection and 4G/5G wireless access. But the doomster in the back of my mind says to me that there is absolutely no guarantee it will continue to be the case forever.
As a life-long tinkerer and computer addict—I’ve got a PHD in process engineering and a Masters in Automation and Industrial computing—I love the concept of iFixit. Increasing resilience and sustainability are very important to me. And when I began contributing as a French translator, I realized that I could make these guides even more accessible if they were available offline.
I know that many people in the world still do not have Internet access. Four billion people in the world still don’t have Internet access, that is half the world’s population. Of course not all of them need access to iFixit (or even know that they might need it). But even if underserved fixers are a minority of people, I love the idea of providing them with a solution.
And here is where the Kiwix project comes in.
According to Kiwix, there is a large population of people who are missing out on the Internet because of no or limited connection. Kiwix understands how important it is to bridge this technological gap and is providing content packages (named .zim files) of many online resources (things like Wikipedia, TED talks, the Gutenberg library, etc.) and a standalone reader for these packages. They aim to provide packages of as many online resources as possible to offline communities, and to keep these packages updated on a regular basis.
There are two big advantages of Kiwix. First, the standalone reader is based on web technologies, ready to archive any web site. Second, the archive format is quite efficient in terms of compression. With Kiwix, the entirety of Wikipedia can fit on a regular Android phone. This is how I ended up creating an offline archive of iFixit for Kiwix. Now, even with a weak internet signal or no internet at all, you can access the entire iFixit archive offline.
After weeks of coding, I am happy to announce that offline archives of iFixit are available for everyone to download in each of the 12 languages supported by iFixit. Each package is about 2.5 GB in size and contains more than 44 thousand guides, including 456 thousand images, listed among nearly 19 thousand categories.
These packages will be updated every quarter to include new and updated guides, as the community is constantly updating them. They are also regularly uploaded on archive.org to ensure long term availability.
This scraper project is open source and will be hosted under the Kiwix organization on Github. It is a community project: do not hesitate to give a hand if you have some expertise in Python programming or simply report a bug if you find one.
We also definitely need your help to spread the word, and feedback is always appreciated. Leave a comment to share your feelings on this project!