Sunday, February 27, 2011

Changing profile/index location for Kiwix on Windows

Quick primer : Go to
Changing profile / index location for Kiwix on Windows. This can also be taken as a guide for pre-installing indexes for your zim files.
1. Go to a path like this: E:\Users\NIKHIL\AppData\Roaming\\Kiwix
--this path is for Windows 7 and Vista and on my PC the OS is on E: drive; for Windows XP it would probably be like
C:\Documents and Settings\Nikhil\Application Data\\Kiwix
2. Open profiles.ini to edit (just double-click or open with Notepad or whatever text editor you use)
Add these lines to whatever’s already there:
Path=C:\Kiwix Profile
3. Make the new folder (“C:\Kiwix Profile” here), leave it empty, run kiwix once and then close it. After running you'll find all sorts of files have been created inside "C:\Kiwix Profile".
4. Shift the index folder from old to this new profile folder and rename it to something legible like "wikipedia_en_wp1_0.8_45000+_12_2010_rc1.zim.idx" (note: this is a folder, not a .idx file. All index folders have .idx or .index at the end.) so you can identify it with your zim file rather than those weird long alphanumeric names. See the library.xml in the old profile folder to figure out which .idx folder is for which zim file in case you’ve loaded multiple zims by now.
In case you don’t have it already, I’ve uploaded some indexes (incl. for the latest english wikipedia zim) on this shared online folder: You can directly download and unzip them to the new profile (using 7-zip).
5. Open library.xml inside the profile in a text editor and make a change like this:
<library current="4dd18dea-9afd-080a-080a-50c68d62072f5675"><book id="4dd18dea-9afd-080a-080a-50c68d62072f5675" path="C:\Wikipedia\wikipedia_en_wp1_0.8_45000+_12_2010_rc1.zim" last="1298420521" indexPath="C:\Kiwix Profile\wikipedia_en_wp1_0.8_45000+_12_2010_rc1.zim.idx" indexType="xapian"/></library>
Take care of your absolute paths.
6. To add more indexes, simply repeat the steps and remember to vary the ‘book id’ variable in library.xml. Also you may set last=”undefined”. It should all be between the <library …> </library> tags.
7. Now run Kiwix again. Hopefully it should be done.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Volunteer your bandwidth for a few days for a collaborative mass educational download effort and let's make history!

Hi All,

I came across Khan Academy a coupe of months ago. It's an amazing phenomenon of one man starting a lone mission to spread education using a microphone and MS Paint, and how his efforts have by now helped thousands of students understand basic concepts in several subjects. Attached is a screenshot from a brilliant lesson that teaches complex multiplication simply.

I've recently found that they've released all their videos free for all. Not only that, they've also opened them up to netizens for dubbing in any language. It's an amazing educational resource that should be spread everywhere - even more so where there is limited or no internet connection. They can even be used as training materials for teachers in under resourced schools.

So I've started downloading the whole lot for spreading to schools in Pune where I live, using a Torrent they've published (strictly no money involved! I'll just use my portable HDD!). But it's huge - 28.9GBs - and I have a very slow connection.

But it's all neatly divided into subjects and chapters so while I'm downloading the initial Maths ones, you can take History, one more can do a chapter in Physics, and so on! Then once we're done we can all meet up and combine them all. This can be done in less than a week if enough of us work as a team - anyways we are so prolific at downloading movies and all - so let's do something for all the students in our city for a change! (and legal too! :P)

How we'll collaborate : Browse to this wiki site:

You can scroll to the table, press the Edit button, put in your name & contact (phone, email, twitter handle, anything) next to a chapter of your choice to indicate that you're downloading it. Put "in progress" in the last column. Once done, go there again and enter the date of completion. It's that simple - no coding or tech expertise needed!

So here's an open Call for a Mass Collaborative Educational Download effort! This will probably be the first campaign of its kind happening in Pune, so here's a chance for you to be a part of history and make a positive impact on the society!

If you're not familiar with torrents and downloading, you must know someone who is! (Who gives you all the movies??) Do share the web page on facebook / twitter, forward this email and spread the word!

Note to friends in other cities : you can copy the table over and start a similar thing for your city on that wiki page as well!

Nikhil Sheth
Pune, India
Teach For India Fellow, 2011-13
Find me on: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Google | RangDe
Join me on: Pune Documentary Club | Let's Do it Pune | Toastmasters in Pune
| Wikipedia For Schools project

Disclaimer :Only download if you're sure you have an unlimited GBs broadband internet connection or you'll end up with a big bill ~!~

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

News coverage for Wikipedia for Schools project

The Wikipedia for Schools project got a small but incredibly helpful mention in Hindustan Times, Mumbai, on Sunday 13th Feb 2011 !

See on the far right under "Pune" !
all image credit to HT, source
Click here to see the article on HT website.
Special thanks to Radhika Raj, journo at Hindustan Times!

Here's the text:
Pune Wikimedians are compiling CDs of select English Wikipedia articles for free distribution to schools across the state that have no internet access. Last month, an early copy of the CD was handed over to a municipal school in Pune as an experiment. "The students had never seen an encyclopedia before", says electrical engineer Nikhil Sheth, 25, the man behind the project. "Some logged on to read about the history of the Taj Mahal, others started exploring pages related to animals."

>>I'm extremely grateful for the publishing, but, well... don't expect a newspaper to have full accuracy when they have to economize on words... also they have to write it for the layman... so here are some corrections, though perfectly understandable I have to share them...
  1. It's DVD or the package is in a USB drive... size is 2.7GBs so it can't really fit on a CD.
  2. We might do compiling select articles later, right now it was "Wikipedia for Schools 2008/09" selection created by the SOS Childrens Villages in collaboration with Wikimedia, and the very portable and easy-to-proliferate DVD/USB package was created by some ingenious people behind and OpenZIM.
  3. Handed over... more like went below every table, stuck the USB cord in the behinds and installed in each computer!
  4. The students hadn't seen a digital encyclopedia before... books they must have had a peek for sure.
  5. I wish I'd been identified as a to-be Teach For India fellow or an IT professional instead of electrical engineer... I haven't been an electrical engineer since I graduated ;)

The pic was taken in Shantabai Ladkat School, Nanapeth, Pune - the first school where I installed Wikipedia for Schools. In the pic it's loaded on Teach For India Fellow Kaushik's netbook; After demo'ing it there, I'd gone and installed it in the computer lab. Here's the original:

Want to get in on the action? Browse over to, sign up and join the movement to empower schools across India and the world!

Friday, February 11, 2011

get your copy of Wikipedia for Schools +more at at GNUnify 2011, SICSR Pune, today and tomorrow

Hi Wikipedians and Friends,

I'll be there all day today at SICSR Pune ( and will also transfer to someone at the college; anybody interested in getting a DVD-ready copy of Wikipedia for Schools Offline Edition, you can copy it from us here. Bring a USB or computing device with min 2.7GB free space.

I'm very grateful for the organizers at GNUnify for giving a generous slot tomorrow (12th Feb, 11:45am) to talk and discuss about Wikipedia for Schools project. Please attend! You can read up more on it on

I'm also bringing the dumps of :
Wikipedia English Dec 2010 selection (wikipedia_en_wp1_0.8_45000+_12_2010_alpha1.zim, 3.74GB),
Hindi Wikipedia (wikipedia_hi_all_01_2011_beta1.zim, 483MB),
Marathi Wikipedia (wikipedia_mr_all_01_2011_beta1.zim, 212MB),
Gujrati Wikipedia (wikipedia_gu_all_01_2011_beta1.zim , 112MB)

All these can of course be downloaded online from
(Due thanks to Emmanuel and Kiwix team for speedy creation of the Indian language dumps!)

So see you there, and let's bridge the internet divide, using the Largest Ebooks ever Created ! (sorry, couldn't resist using that!)

Nikhil Sheth
Pune, India
Teach For India Fellow, 2011-13
Find me on: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Google | RangDe
Join me on: Pune Documentary Club | Let's Do it Pune | Toastmasters in Pune
| Wikipedia For Schools project

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cover letter for Wikipedia For Schools

I was asked by a school principal to prepare a letter describing the Wikipedia For Schools so the school trustees can get to know about it before giving their permission to install in in their computer lab. This is where a realization dawned : I had till then just assumed I'd pass on the URL and whoever needs to know will see it and know. It's not so, and I'm glad I was made to sit and create a cover letter as it solidified the initiative. I'm sharing the cover letter here. Please evaluate it and give any recommendations in the comments section.

Date: 9th February 2011
Respected Sir / Madam,
Sub: Permission to install Wikipedia For Schools Offline Edition in computer lab

I am a Teach For India volunteer and will be joining TFI as a fellow this year (2011-13). I'm presently involved with a grassroots volunteer project where we want to spread an offline version of Wikipedia (largest online encyclopedia in the world), specifically made for school children from ages 8 to 17, to schools all over the country. For details please visit

I would like to request permission to install this encyclopedia in the computer lab of your respected institution so that the students and teachers can benefit from it. There are no costs or charges involved.

The package is of 2.7GBs size and can be easily installed or copied from a DVD or a USB Drive to any computer in under 10 minutes. The software running it is Kiwix (, an open source free reader created for this purpose. We may need to also install "Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 drivers" (included, free) to make it run properly on older computers. Wikipedia For Schools is distributed for free and non-commercial use for spreading to schools around the world. Below is a paragraph quoted from their press release on :
Press Release: Wikipedia for Schools
Oct 22, 2008 12:00 PM
SOS Children UK, in coordination with the Wikimedia Foundation, has released a complete 2008/9 revision of the Wikipedia Selection for Schools, which is perhaps the most successful "checked content" project derived from the English Wikipedia. Previous revisions have been distributed off-line widely across the globe including by the Shuttleworth Foundation to South Africa Schools, by the Hole in the Wall project to rural Indian children and through SOS offices worldwide. The updated selection has the content of a 20 volume encyclopaedia - with 34,500 pictures, 20 million words and articles on more than 5500 topics….
….SOS Children's Villages is best known as the world's largest orphan charity (UK Charity No. 1069204) but is also a very large educational charity running 192 schools with 91,000 pupils in the developing world. See

To check the contents of this encyclopedia, you can visit which is an online version of the same package. This project has been successfully implemented in Shantabai Ladkat English Medium School in Nanapeth, Pune (contact: TFI Fellow Moiz, 9819117826). I look forward working with your esteemed institution on this project.

Yours Faithfully,
Nikhil Sheth
Teach For India Fellow, 2011-13
Previously working with Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.
Contact:  966-583-1250,
..So... ok??

Points to note:
1. I want to give them a complete and honest picture of what will be going into their computers, so they don't tell later that "Hey, you didn't tell us about this!".
2. The non-commercial, moneyless nature of the project is to be stressed and specified as early as possible so they can be assured that no one is after their school's limited money.
3. The persons we're working with may only have a rudimentary knowledge of computers. They typically are very fearful of viruses, are prone to labeling anything that doesn't work at first try as having "virus". One teacher informed me there was a virus in her comp because she couldn't get through the account creation stage of gmail successfully. (this is one of the reasons we must spread an encyclopedia - to inform people and dispel rumors)
4. The text above is already a one-full-pager so no more additions please - suggest replacements and deletions only if you must.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Gandhi's bane and Hitler's boon

Gandhi's bane : Because people labeled him a Mahatma, they assume no one else can do the good things he did.

Hitler's boon : Because people label him so, they assume their own leaders can never do the kind of atrocities he did.

Both are wrong.

Don't stereotype, people. All humans are humans. You are singularly capable of being both Gandhi and Hitler - the choice is yours.

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