Best way to repurpose old laptop to use with Home Assistant -- help!

Hi All -

I have an old (3 years) laptop that my company has advised that I can just keep after sending me a new one, and I’m considering repurposing it into a dedicated Home Assistant machine. I have Hassio set up on a RPi3 and it’s working fine, but I’m finding some things just aren’t as snappy as I’d like them to be.

The current machine has a heavy image on it that will need to go away before I can do anything with it, so I have a few questions…

  1. If I totally reformat the existing drive and wipe the machine, what OS could I load (free? cheap?) that would run Home Assistant most effectively?

  2. Would you recommend this, or is there something I’m missing?

As an aside, here are the vitals of the machine –

i5-4300M (2.6gHz)
512GB SSD (Samsung EVO 850)

With that said, is there anything else I should be thinking about to do with this machine? :slight_smile:


Xubuntu is my first choice, running Docker.

Absolutely I would recommend this

I would do a headless debian install, with ha in a virtual environment.

Horses for courses.

Thanks a ton for the quick reply, @flamingm0e.

A few things –

1.) I’m fairly tech-savvy. I got Hassio running on the RPi with minimal additional effort, and my biggest issue was literally a missing space in my config file that I was graciously helped to discover on this forum. Overall though, it was not difficult for me. I’m not a programmer or engineer, but I’ve done some HTML/CSS/Javascript work in the past and can also follow directions pretty well. :slight_smile:

2.) I’ve never messed around with Xubuntu (or any other alternative OS before).

With those things in mind, two questions

1.) will I struggle with the Xubuntu+Docker setup? Anything I should know about making it work, or will it be pretty straightforward?

2.) Is there anything I need to worry about as far as compatibility goes? I loved how seamless everything was in Hassio on an RPi3, but I’m willing to sacrifice simplicity for better performance. The primary things I’ll be working with once I’m fully up and running is a number of Z-wave receptacles and light switches, and integrating my wired security system using inputs from an Arduino Ethermega. I may also do some presence detection, integrate Sonos, and perhaps Plex or a few other media items.

Thanks again to everyone for the help – much appreciated!

I think it is pretty straightforward if you just follow the directions provided by Docker to get it running on your OS (Xubuntu is just Ubuntu with a different desktop environment)

no? not that I am aware of.

Sounds fairly similar to most of the setups around here. :wink:

Just one note: before committing to the new machine, think if the difference in power consumption (and in $$$) will justify the increase in performance.

A RPi 3 needs between 2W to 3W, for a laptop let’s say 20W. Over one year it makes 22KWh vs 175KWh.

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Thanks for that. I had not considered that, but it is something to think about.

With that said, a difference of ~155kWh in a year means a total difference of about $13 at my current electricity rates. While I certainly don’t want to be wasteful of energy in general, I have to admit I’m not particularly concerned about an additional ~$1 per month. If I were, then I DEFINITELY picked the wrong hobby. :slight_smile: