kiwix-serve is a tool for serving ZIM file content over HTTP. It supports serving a library containing multiple ZIM files. In a large library served by a kiwix-serve instance clients can look up/filter ZIM files of interest by words in their titles and/or descriptions, language, tags, etc.

kiwix-serve provides a ZIM file viewer for displaying inidividual pages from a ZIM file inside the user’s web browser (without downloading the full ZIM file).

Clients can also remotely search inside those ZIM files that contain a full-text search database.


kiwix-serve --library [OPTIONS] LIBRARY_FILE_PATH
kiwix-serve [OPTIONS] ZIM_FILE_PATH ...


LIBRARY_FILE_PATH: path of an XML library file listing ZIM files to serve. To be used only with the --library option. Multiple library files can be provided as a semicolon (;) separated list.

ZIM_FILE_PATH: ZIM file path (multiple arguments are allowed).



By default, kiwix-serve expects a list of ZIM files as command line arguments. Providing the --library option tells kiwix-serve that the command line argument is rather a library XML file.

-i ADDR, --address=ADDR

Listen only on this IP address. By default the server listens on all available IP addresses.

-p PORT, --port=PORT

TCP port on which to listen for HTTP requests (default: 80).

-r ROOT, --urlRootLocation=ROOT

URL prefix on which the content should be made available (default: empty).

-d, --daemon

Detach the HTTP server daemon from the main process.

-a PID, --attachToProcess=PID

Exit when the process with id PID stops running.

-M, --monitorLibrary

Monitor the XML library file and reload it automatically when it changes.

Library reloading can be forced anytime by sending a SIGHUP signal to the kiwix-serve process (this works regardless of the presence of the --monitorLibrary/-M option).

-m, --nolibrarybutton

Disable the library home button in the ZIM viewer toolbar.

-n, --nosearchbar

Disable the searchbox in the ZIM viewer toolbar.

-b, --blockexternal

Prevent the users from directly navigating to external resources via such links in ZIM content.

-t N, --threads=N

Number of threads to run in parallel (default: 4).

-s N, --searchLimit=N

Maximum number of ZIM files in a fulltext multizim search (default: No limit).

-z, --nodatealiases

Create URL aliases for each content by removing the date embedded in the file name. The expected format of the date in the filename is _YYYY-MM. For example, ZIM file wikipedia_en_all_2020-08.zim will be accessible both as wikipedia_en_all_2020-08 and wikipedia_en_all.

-c PATH, --customIndex=PATH

Override the welcome page with a custom HTML file.

-L N, --ipConnectionLimit=N

Max number of (concurrent) connections per IP (default: infinite, recommended: >= 6).

-v, --verbose

Print debug log to STDOUT.

-V, --version

Print the software version.

-h, --help

Print the help text.


kiwix-serve serves content at/under http://ADDR:PORT/ROOT where ADDR, PORT and ROOT are the values supplied to the --address/-i, --port/-p and --urlRootLocation/-r options, respectively.

HTTP API endpoints presented below are relative to that location, i.e. /foo/bar must be actually accessed as http://ADDR:PORT/ROOT/foo/bar.


Welcome page is served under /. By default this is the library page, where books are listed and can be looked up/filtered interactively. However, the welcome page can be overriden through the --customIndex/-c command line option of kiwix-serve.

/catalog/v2 (OPDS API)

The new OPDS API of kiwix-serve is based on the OPDS Catalog specification v1.2. All of its endpoints are grouped under /catalog/v2.

Legacy OPDS API is preserved for backward compatibility.


The OPDS Catalog Root links to the OPDS acquisition and navigation feeds accessible through the other endpoints of the OPDS API.


Describes the /catalog/v2/entries endpoint in OpenSearch description format.


Returns the full list of ZIM file categories as an OPDS Navigation Feed.


Returns the full or filtered list of ZIM files as an OPDS acquisition feed with complete entries.

By default, all entries in the library are returned. A subset can be requested by providing one or more filtering criteria, whereupon only entries matching all of the criteria are included in the response. The filtering criteria must be specified as URL search parameters.

  • lang - filter by language (specified as a 3-letter language code).

  • category - filter by categories associated with the library entries.

  • tag - filter by tags associated with the library entries. Multiple tags can be provided as a semicolon separated list (e.g tag=wikipedia;_videos:no). The result will contain only those entries that contain all of the requested tags.

  • notag - filter out (exclude) entries with any of the specified tags (example - notag=ted;youtube).

  • maxsize - include in the results only entries whose size (in bytes) doesn’t exceed the provided value.

  • q - include in the results only entries that contain the specified text in the title or description.

  • name - include in the results only the entry with the specified name.

  • start=s and count=n - these parameters enable pagination of the search/filtering results - the feed will contain (at most) n results starting from the result # s (0-based).


# List only books in Italian (lang=ita) but
# return only results ## 100-149 (start=100&count=50)
$ curl 'http://localhost:8080/catalog/v2/entries?lang=ita&start=100&count=50'

# List only books with category of 'wikipedia' AND containing the word
# 'science' in the title or description
$ curl 'http://localhost:8080/catalog/v2/entries?q=science&category=wikipedia'


Returns full info about the library entry with UUID ZIMID.




Returns the illustration of size NxN pixels for the library entry with UUID ZIMID.

If no illustration of requested size is found a HTTP 404 error is returned.


Returns the full list of ZIM file languages as an OPDS Navigation Feed.


Returns the full or filtered list of ZIM files as an OPDS acquisition feed with partial entries.

Supported filters are the same as for the /catalog/v2/entries endpoint.

/catalog (Legacy OPDS API)

The legacy OPDS API is preserved for backward compatibility and is deprecated. New OPDS API should be used instead.


Full library OPDS catalog (list of all ZIM files).


Describes the /catalog/search endpoint in OpenSearch description format.




Generates a HTML page with a link leading to (the decoded version of) URL and a warning that following that link will load an external (out of ZIM) resource.


source: URL of the external resource (must be URL-encoded).


# Intercept an external link to
$ curl 'http://localhost:8080/catch/external?'


ZIM file content is served under the /content endpoint as described below.


Returns the entry with path PATH/IN/ZIMFILE from ZIM file with name ZIMNAME.


/content/ZIMNAME redirects to the main page of the ZIM file with name ZIMNAME (unless that ZIM file contains an entry with an empty path or path equal to /, in which case that entry is returned).




Generates a HTTP redirect to a randomly selected article/page from the specified ZIM file.


content: name of the ZIM file.


Returns the entry with path PATH/IN/ZIMFILE from the ZIM file with name ZIMNAME. Currently, this endpoint almost duplicates (with some subtle technical differences) the newer endpoint /content/ZIMNAME/PATH/IN/ZIMFILE. The important difference is that the /raw endpoint guarantees that no server-side processing will be applied to the returned content, whereas content obtained via the /content endpoint may in the future undergo some processing intended to improve the operation of the viewer (e.g. compensating for certain bugs in ZIM creation).


Returns the metadata item METADATAID from the ZIM file with name ZIMNAME.


Describes the /search endpoint in OpenSearch description format.


Static front-end resources (such as CSS, javascript and images) are all grouped under /skin.



Cache busting of static resources is supported via the optional param cacheid. By default, i.e. when the cacheid parameter is not specified while accessing the /skin endpoint, static resources are served as if they were dynamic (i.e. could be different for an immediately repeated request). Specifying the cacheid parameter with a correct value (matching the value embedded in the kiwix-serve instance), makes the returned resource to be presented as immutable. However, if the value of the cacheid parameter mismatches then kiwix-serve responds with a 404 HTTP error.

kiwix-serve’s default front-end (the welcome page and the ZIM file viewer) access all underlying static resources by using explicit cacheid s.




Returns suggestions (in JSON format) for a text string that is assumed to be a partially typed search for a page inside a particular ZIM file.

Suggestions are obtained as matches of the query text against the page titles in the ZIM file using the title index database generated during the creation of the ZIM file.

In case of a multi-word query the order of the words matters in two ways:

  1. the last word is considered as partially typed, unless followed by a space;

  2. ranking of the matches.

If the ZIM file doesn’t contain a title index then suggestions are generated by listing page titles starting exactly (in a case sensitive manner) with the query text. Otherwise, suggestions are case-insensitive.

If the ZIM file contains a full text search index, then an extra suggestion is added as an option to perform a full text search in the said ZIM file.


content (mandatory): name of the ZIM file.

term (optional; defaults to an empty string): query text.

count (optional, default: 10): maximum number of page suggestions in the response (i.e. the extra option to perform a full text search is not included in this count).

start (optional, default: 0): this parameter enables pagination of results. The response will include up to count entries starting with entry # start from the full list of page suggestions (the first result is assumed to have index 0).


$ curl 'http://localhost/suggest?content=stackoverflow_en&term=pyth&count=50'


ZIM file viewer. The ZIM file and entry therein must be specified via the hash component of the URL as /viewer#ZIMNAME/PATH/IN/ZIMFILE.


Settings of the ZIM file viewer that are configurable via certain command line options of kiwix-serve (e.g. --nolibrarybutton).


Any other URL is considered as an attempt to access ZIM file content using the legacy URL scheme and is redirected to /content/ANYTHING/ELSE.


ZIM filename

Name of a ZIM file on the server filesystem.

ZIM name

Identifier of a ZIM file in the server’s library (used for referring to a particular ZIM file in requests).

For a kiwix-serve started with a list of ZIM files, ZIM names are derived from the filename by dropping the extension and replacing certain characters (spaces are replaced with underscores, and + symbols are replaced with the text plus). Presence of the -z/--nodatealiases option will create additional names (aliases) for filenames with dates.

For a kiwix-serve started with the --library option, ZIM names come from the library XML file.

ZIM names are expected to be unique across the library. Any name conflicts (including those caused by the usage of the -z/--nodatealiases option) are reported on STDERR but, otherwise, are ignored.

ZIM title

Title of a ZIM file. This can be any text (with whitespace). It is never used as a way of referring to a ZIM file.


This is a unique identifier of a ZIM file designated at its creation time and embedded in the ZIM file. Certain kiwix-serve operations may require that a ZIM file be referenced through its UUID rather than name.