Just joined -- Intros used to be customary, and I'm old-school

Howdy, neighbors!

I was about to buy a Hubitat Elevation, but then I found Home Assistant. Since I already have an old laptop running Ubuntu 24/7 hosting my PLEX media server, I thought I’d give it another job to do. So HA is running in a Docker container on the Ubuntu laptop. I just bought a USB Zigbee/Z-wave interface, but no devices. So far, I have not even decided what needs to be automated, much less bought any compatible endpoint devices.

I’ve set up some automation at home using a Raspberry Pi to back up my laptop and some websites I operate. This is done with some bash scripting, and I’m quite happy with it. I do not plan to use the Pi for HA, since the laptop is much more powerful.

I’m a Linux admin/engineer by day, and we’re moving fast and furiously into automation and cloud technologies. I’m pretty familiar with yaml because we use it with Ansible. Since HA has a Docker install, that gave me an opportunity to tinker with Docker.

Since I’m in the technology field, I’m quite aware of the privacy and security tradeoffs that have to be made to use cloud-driven features (like voice) and I absolutely refuse to surrender the last shreds of my privacy and security over to Google and Amazon. So anything I do here will not include voice automation, until it can be brought “home” and function locally.

I’m thinking the climate control will be first HA integration, because my two home thermostats are about 20 years old. They’re programmable, but the process is really painful to set up and painful to change. But I’m open to other suggestions.


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The standard hassos install actually runs in a docker too but it’s a customised OS providing tighter integration (but equally some limitations too) AND pretty transparent to the user.
You are in at the deepend running with your setup but if you have issues, look for threads from kanga_who he’s one of our experts on such setups.
You are in a difficult spot as the landscape around you is open and free, only to be cluttered with devices, integrations and other detritus :rofl:
Get ssh and samba set up, you’ll need them. Worry about remote access later when you have something to access (I must check if I turn the light off in the 4th bedroom !)
If I were you I’d buy a dimmer switch
Hook it up to a light near your workstation and make it do tricks
Light on at this time, off at that, try events, dawn, dusk, sunrise etc.
If your family is like mine, get it to turn itself off after x time. 10 mins for toilets 120 for bedrooms 7 hours for living rooms whatever (then get it so you can turn these features off and on) and adjust the time (all from the frontend not by rewriting code)
Adjust light levels through the day have the light transition for this and not for that etc. (get that done from the frontend too)
(you might want to look at yaml mode)
This will give you a good grounding in automations
Then we can start you on scripts
Then we’ll get you to throw out the devices automation editor and start coding by hand (I use visual studio code with the home assistant, rainbow spacing and rainbow brackets added) but whatever editor floats your boat.
If you don’t understand anything, read the docs. Search
“home assistant docs input_number” etc
I really recommend you look at packages, one multi disciplined file for “one area” of automation - though work with the monolithic design til you are ready
Most important of all, have fun

Thanks for the welcome.

Regarding ssh and samba–
If you mean ssh for the laptop that hosts HA, that’s a done deal. I couldn’t operate without that. I’m a command-line guy, I’ve never used a GUI.
And samba? Why on earth?

My editor of choice is always vim.



You’ve decided to surrender all your spare time to Home Assistant at the right time! The new Almond and Ada addons should help you accomplish voice control without the evil eye in the sky watching ya. They are brand new features to home assistant - I’ve just started playing with them myself. Once you’re up and running and have felt your way around a bit check out the Almond and Ada addons to dig into local intelligent voice control.

Before you run out and buy a bunch of devices I would spend some time getting your feet wet with HA so you understand the architecture and kinda figure out what direction you want to go. There is a lot you can set up and play with (weather, system stuff, presence) without having to buy any devices at all. Trying to learn HA and trying to learn and set up 150 devices at the same time without having a good grasp on HA would be a nightmare. @Mutt is bang on - just get one or two switches for now and learn what you can do with them before blowing the budget on purchases you might regret.

PS - If you’re doing all your climate automation with HA you won’t need a Nest or an ecobee. A simple Z-Wave / Wifi thermostat will do. I have a Nest and it uses exactly zero internal functionality. Everything is done in HA. If I didn’t get it for almost free from the utility company it would have been a waste of money.

Have fun!

Thanks, Jason!

Well it depends on if your ssh instance (on the same laptop ?) can access the HA instance in the separate docker. vim? Why not ? Again whatever you are comfortable with. But you may need to configure Samba to access into that docker. (both of these have to be set up from HA)
The benefits of vsc though are many, knowledge of entities within you HA instance, autocomplete of known commands/strings you’ve used before, awareness of yaml spacing (highlighting differences/discrepancies). Although re-reading this I use it from a (bugging me more and more :imp: ) Windows environment (please don’t judge me :sob:) so you may not be inclined

In docker, your configuration files are mounted on the host. There is no reason to get into the container.

You absolutely do not need samba to run home assistant.

There are many benefits and you don’t need to run the add-on in hassio to use those benefits. I don’t need SSH into the container and I don’t need samba.

Jason is bang on with this (reciprocation :rofl: )
I have 2 z-wave thermostats (soon to be 4) and they are just used as sensors. The actual set points are run from HA based on doors open, occupancy, day, evening or night. One sensor for heating, one for cooling and the others will be for moving around checking seldom used rooms etc. It’s a fit and forget solution and if ha breaks (you never know what you’ll do to cripple your own system) then it falls back on the water return temperature and I can always switch in the boiler timer if needed (always have a backup strategy)
Speaking of backup, I can switch any light or switch in the house without HA don’t dispense with this, really not wife friendly (WAF wife approval factor - very low)

Welcome to the time suck! LOL.

Excellent. We can definitely use more Linux guys around here.

No, I don’t either. As for the other stuff, I’ve learnt something

Jack, moe is another Unix mounting expert though he uses nodered (:spit: :hack: :bad taste in mouth: )

I should lay out my home environment.

  • The HA (and PLEX) laptop is in a closet, I don’t log in locally – always via ssh. Incidentally, old laptops are handy to use as “servers” because they have built-in “battery backup”. :wink:
  • The Pi is also in the closet, and is my NFS server and backup host, running Raspbian.
  • There are no Windows devices on our home network. My “desktop” is another Ubuntu laptop.

I’m not opposed to a yaml editor, but I’m not new to yaml and I’ve been happy using vim so far. Yes, spacing and indentation are the big gotchas there.

Since I’m brand new to Docker, I may have to poke around there before your suggestions (samba, etc.) sink in. I had assumed that there should be some sort of CLI interface to get into the container, maybe via ssh. But I haven’t explored that yet. No rush.

Thanks, again!

Wow, replies are coming in faster than I can respond!

Moe, Re vsc, as another opportunity to learn something, how do you run vsc ? From the same machine (hesitate to get the terms wrong with HA instance) or from a compiled version on another Unix work station?

It appears you are associating “running HA in Docker” with “Hassio”.

For my setup, I use Syncthing docker container to keep my config directory in sync with NUC, NAS, Laptop, Desktop. On my laptop/desktop, I can edit files locally, and Syncthing syncs changes immediately to all the other locations. Once my edits are done, I run a check in HA, or I just restart my docker container and monitor the logs for issues.

Running HA in Docker doesn’t require anything but access to the host system, in some way. SSH is generally the preferred way for me.

Really it’s handy to have the autocompletion for entities

There is, but you don’t need to. If you followed the directions on the HA website to run HA in docker, your data is OUTSIDE the container, on the host. You don’t modify running docker images, that’s not the docker way, so getting into the container to do anything is pretty rare, and the next update will just remove those changes anyway.

On my desktop or laptop. My NUC is in the closet and has no GUI. My only access to that machine is SSH.

VSCode has an extension that you can connect to your remote HA instance.

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Mutt, you mentioned that your thermostats are just used a sensors, with HA doing all the work. When I was considering Hubitat, I specifically asked why we needed “smart” thermostats, and why not just use Hubitat for all the smart stuff. The Hubitat crowd seems to have a different approach, but I suppose HA users are generally more inclined toward building DIY stuff.

I have more questions about that, but I’ll do some searching first, and if I still have questions, I’ll post a new topic in the appropriate forum.



I went down this track thermostats

Have 3 in my house and just brought 2 more that means HA will now the temp in each room of my house.

and with the USB Zigbee thing Put Extension Cord ( Extension Extender Cable A Male to A Female Cord Adapter)

Like the lappie Idea with built in UPS lol

These are just temperature sensors, to turn them into thermostats you need relays to actuate turning heating/cooling on and off.

https://frenck.dev/diy-smart-doorbell-for-just-2-dollar/ is an example on how you get a relay. https://shelly.cloud or https://itead.cc are two companies that sell nicer packages of that wifi relay setup with built-in power supplies.

For zone heating/cooling you probably need to actuate some mechanical thing, which means more relays.