Browsing Wikipedia on Your Desktop with Wike

7 May, 2024

You can’t deny that Wikipedia has become one of the main go-to places online for information about … well, just about everything. I’m sure that you use it at least once a week and, chances are, that when you drop by Wikipedia, you do so either using a web browser or an app on your mobile device.

On the Linux desktop, you can cut out the web browser and use Wike instead. What’s Wike? It’s billed as a Wikipedia reader for the GNOME desktop. It does one thing, and does that one thing quite well.

Let’s take a look at it.

Getting Wike

As with many pieces of software, Wike might be available from your Linux distribution’s software centre. That’s especially true if you’re running a distribution that uses GNOME or a variant of it as its desktop.

You can also install Wike as a Flatpak or as a snap.

Regardless, it’s easy to get Wike on your computer. But what matters is what you do with Wike once you install it.

Using Wike

Wike looks like this when you start it up:

Wike at startup

Kind of familiar, isn’t it? It’s just like visiting the Wikipedia website in your favourite web browser.

As you would in a web browser or the Wikipedia mobile app, you can follow any of the links on the front page. Or, you can click the magnifying glass icon in the sidebar on the left to search for an article. Here’s an example:

Searching for an article in Wike

Click one of the results to open its entry. Here’s an entry from a different search than the one pictured above:

Browsing a Wikipedia article in Wike

As in your browser, you can follow a link in an article. Right click on the link open it in a new tab in Wike or to open it in your default web browser. You can also add the link to your bookmarks in Wike (more about this in a moment) or copy the link to paste elsewhere.

Wike’s Sidebar

The sidebar on the left of Wike’s window contains several useful functions. Here’s a close up of it:

Wike’s sidebar

Let’s look at the sidebar, starting from the top.

The first of those functions, Search, we’ve already encountered.

Next is Contents, which is a table of contents that lets you jump to sections in an article. Here’s what one looks like:

Article table of contents in Wike

Below that is Languages, which displays links to the article you’re browsing in other languages, as shown here:

Links to the article in other languages in Wike

If, like me, you’re more of a poly-not than a polyglot, you can ignore Languages without missing anything.

After that is Bookmarks, which are links to Wikipedia articles you’ve saved for later reading (I mentioned this a few paragraphs ago). Here’s an example of a list of bookmarks:

Bookmarks in Wike

Finally, there’s History, which is a list of all the articles that you’ve browsed. Like this:

Browsing history in Wike

Using the dropdown menu at the top of the screen, you can display your browsing history for today, the last 7 or 30 days, or your entire history.

Making Wike Your Own

Well, kind of … Wike has a small number of customization options. The first of which you access by clicking the stacker menu in the top-left of the window and then selecting Preferences. When you do that, this screen displays:

Preferences in Wike

You can:

There are a few other customizations that you can make. Click the View icon in the top-right of Wike’s window to:

Final Thoughts

I know that there are probably more than a few people who question the need for a dedicated Wikipedia browser. It’s not my thing, but I’m not one to say how anyone should use their devices or how they should access their information.

In my time testing it, I found Wike to be a quick, smooth, and easy way to check information on Wikipedia. It’s basic, but it does the job. And it does that job very well.

Scott Nesbitt