HA on a Raspberry Pi with Touchscreen, What is the Correct Way?

Hi All,

I’ve been an avid user of Home Assistant for about 6 months now. I have a headless Raspberry Pi 3B running HA in my home, and have had much joy adding oodles of ESPhome sensors for all sorts of obscure things. I can now see the precise temperature & humidity in my kitchen, freezer & fridge, as well as log CO2 levels in my living room, make the lightbulbs flash red when the International Space Station comes overhead, etc. Love it.

Where I’m at is that I’m about to set up another HA installation in the makerspace I run. Our lasercutter’s performance depends on ventilation, cleaning, cooling water temperature & flow, air assist pressure, tube age, etc. When the machine is misbehaving it can be tricky to narrow down the location of the problem. So I’m going to instrument the heck out of it and allow us to see what the data looks like, and possibly make some alarms or notifications when parameters go outside the healthy zone.

I have a raspberry pi 3B, and one of the 7-inch pi touchscreens. I’m wanting to use a single pi to run both the HA server, as well as displaying the Lovelace GUI.

If I’m understanding correctly there are 4 options for HA install:

  1. Home Assistant Operating System
  2. Home Assistant Container
  3. Home Assistant Supervised
  4. Home Assistant Core

Option 1 (Home Assistant Operating System), is a cutback OS to run the home assistant, and I believe it’s not possible to install all the requirements to get xwindows, browser etc. that would allow me to run a GUI on top of it? Is that right?

I think I want to install my own OS (Debian or Raspberry PI OS), and then install Home Assistant Supervised, is that right?

I’m having a bit of trouble understanding what’s the current way to do it. I have read the installation page, as well as done lots of searching in the forum, but I’m still uncertain. A lot of forum posts were written when the software was different, names were different, or using 3rd party stuff that has changed (e.g. Raspbian no longer exists, it’s become “Raspberry Pi OS”, and if I’m understanding right is currently 32-bit only?) and I’m not sure what’s correct.

Also I have seen people post here saying that Debian is the only supported OS, but going to https://www.home-assistant.io/ and searching for Debian just yields instructions for FFMpeg. So are there no officially supported OS’s now? (Other than HAOS).

My questions:

  1. Am I correct in thinking that to get HA and GUI on the same pi, I should first be installing a standard pi OS, then install Home Assistant Supervised?
  2. Is there a particular OS I should use for this? (Debian, Raspberry Pi OS, etc.)
  3. Is the raspberry pi 3b suitable to run Home Assistant Supervised and web browser/touchscreen? (e.g. no dramatic slowdown compared to HAOS).

Cheers,
Gavin

  1. Anything else than HassOS, really. And then again, officially, you’re not supposed to run anything else than HA on your supervised install (don’t ask why…). Unless you need "addons, I’d suggest “Container”.
  2. If you want Supervised, Debian 11 is the only supported OS (that doesn’t mean it won’t work on any OS with docker, just that it will be flagged “unsupported”). Container runs on anything with docker > 19.03
  3. RPi3 is really slow and memory constrained, not even considering running the UI (browser) part. I’d highly recommend at least a RPi4, 4Gb RAM.

When I started with HA (around 3 years ago) I read here that I needed to buy the (then) new and shiny RPi 3B+ for best performance. Of course when buying new, it makes sense to go with the latest and greatest. But to be honest, I can’t find anything wrong with my HA OS on my (now obsolete) 3B+

Obviously running other virtual machines, streaming video or otherwise loading up the system would challenge my hardware. But I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “slow and memory constrained.” Much as I’d love to justify buying more robust hardware, I can’t (yet.)

RPI3 is very fine for just HA, but the OP wants to run a browser, so a full graphical stack above it :wink:

Awesome, thanks for the advice. I’ve ordered a pi4 just to be on the safe side. (Although I’m later going to update my home setup also, so I might report back if a pi3b is up to the task)

Unless you need "addons, I’d suggest “Container”.
I definitely need ESPhome, so I take it that means Supervised is the only option I should consider.

Cheers,
Gavin

Can confirm about the RPI3B, because this is what I use :slightly_smiling_face: Works great for HA and everything around (mqtt, zwavejs, etc). But a browser is a little too much on the edge for the thing. I run Raspbian on it with LXDE. I mostly use it through VNC. Basic graphical UI stuff works well enough, like text editors or light weight IDEs. It came with Chromium by default, which is close to unusable because it’s so slow. Maybe there’s something more lightweight, I haven’t really tried.

RPi4 for graphical UI !

That said, I don’t know what touchscreen you have for the Pi, but the one I’ve tried before I wasn’t too impressed with. Especially the touch felt unresponsive and laggy. Not sure if it was the hardware or if the touch driver in Raspbian was the problem. I ended up ditching it and used a tablet instead (wasn’t for HA, but for OpenCPN and Signal K).