Wikipedia, the free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project is probably the best source for all the information on the internet. And now, an Argentinian group has managed to shrink virtually the full content of Wikipedia onto a CD which can be read with on-the-fly compression.
According to PyAr, the Argentinian Python Users’ group, this has been done to distribute the CDPedia CD to remote schools which lack internet connectivity. The CD contains the full Spanish-language Wikipedia for either a 680MB CD-R or a 4.5GB DVD-R. Bittorrent is used to distribute the ISO images, which can be burned to a CD-R, as well as a larger version that fits on a DVD-R.
There’s a copy of the Python language – available on Linux and OSX – included on the disk for Windows users. Content, obviously, is frozen at the point the disk was finished – mid-2008. It has been named as CDPedia.
The DVD9 version has all 448,038 articles of the Spanish Wikipedia that were dumped to html in June 2008, and 98 percent of the images. The CD version carries a big percentage of these articles and the images of the most relevant articles
Accoring to PyAr, a more up-to-date version would be available by the end of March. The code of the scripts used to generate CDPedia is free software, licensed under a GPL license and available at http://code.google.com/p/cdpedia/
I would expect someone would build the English version of Wikipedia in the same way. You will be the first to know when that happens! Note that there is a similar project from Wikimedia foundation – called Wikipedia-on-dvd, but that version contains just around 2000 articles from Wikipedia.