Lessons learned with HASS ZWAVE and ESXI

So as I’ve gone through this journey of home automation I just want to throw out my experiences mainly regarding ESXI and ZWAVE. First of all I am running ESXI on a Dell optiplex 780 with 16gb of ram and 2 350gb HD not in a raid setup just independent of each other. I started with having pfsense as my main firewall and DHCP server because I didn’t want to use the Verizon fios router as my default router.

(First lesson, unless you want future headaches separate your DHCP server from your ESXI setup)

Even though the setup wasn’t the best it still worked very well. My media server is through Logitech which has never had any problems. So essentially I only had 3 VM’s PFSENSE, LMS, and HASS. My problems started when I wanted to setup my ZWAVE motion sensors.

I have the Aeotec Gen5 Z-Stick for my ZWAVE devices. I bought this because the only other real options were to get a full blown hub like Smartthings or Vera. I think I read almost every post regarding Zwave and I litterally had no clue why it was working and because ESXI hadnt really messed anything up previously I had never thought about that being the issue.

My Zwave devices would show up and work for about 2 minutes then they would no longer report what was happening. Stuck in sleep mode forever but I could tell that the sensor was still functioning properly. I thought to use the open zwave control panel to fix this issue but this still did the same thing. So eventually I gave up.

After a while it gets frustrating having to tell Alexa to turn on your living room lights when you enter the house or want to turn on the hallway light :-(…

So I though “Hey im smart I KNOW I can figure this out somehow” I happen to stumple upon a post http://floating.io/2017/02/openhab-a-z-stick-and-esxi-6-5/ his issue sounded exactly like mine.

(Second lesson, If you do not have a dell server DO NOT use the dell customized ESXI image because it will not allow you to disable the new vmkusb driver (Well it didnt let me at least) I ended up having to start my ESXI server configuration from scrtach, which honestly wasnt that bad because it was installed on a USB thumb drive)

So here is the main point of this post. If you are using Aeotech Zwave Z-Stick gen5 and are running ESXI 6.5 you need to disable the Newer (vmkusb driver) because this driver doesnt play well with the z-stick. You need to enable the legacy driver. Easy want to do this is to enable SSH on your ESXI server and start an SSH session enter “esxcli system module set -m=vmkusb -e=FALSE” (without quotes) then enter “esxcli system module list” (without quotes) and verify that the VMKUSB driver is set to FALSE. Reboot the ESXI host and start the ssh session one more time to verify that the driver is still sent to FALSE. Then all of your ZWAVE headaches will go away.


Thanks for this. I have a very similar setup: ESXI 6.0 running on a custom supermicro box, which hosts my Sophos firewall, a Ubuntu server (for HASS and other utilities), and a NAS. Also using the z-stick. I’ll be sure to keep the driver issue in mind if I ever upgrade.

For what it’s worth, my Sophos VM is acting as my DHCP. Haven’t had any problems yet. Maybe something unique to my setup?

Thanks so much! Been trying to figure out erratic behavior for 2 days until I found this, I was 2 bottles of whisky away from a meltdown when I found your post. Testing it now :smile: :


Hi I have my z-wave usb key running by disabling vmkusb too.
and yes using the customized dell esx 6.5 image…
it perfectly sees my controller now


This needed to be added to the setup articles!!! I was trying to figure this out for days! 2 commands and a reboot and I am back in business! Thanks for your hard work to figure this one out!

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How do you know the path to the USB stick?

Does anyone know if this still applies to esxi 6.7?

I am using ESXi 6.7 and unable to get the host to see the Z-Stick Gen2.

I have followed the process and disabled the vmkusb driver and rebooted. I have confirmed that the vmkusb driver is disabled.

vmkusb false false

Wondering if anyone has the Z-Stick Gen2 working with ESXi 6.7?

The Z-Stick Gen 2 is now working. I had to re-enable the usbabitrator daemon which I disabled to create an external USB data store.

First check that the host can see the Z-Stick Gen 2 USB device, execute the following from your ESXi console.

esxcli hardware usb passthrough device list

You should see something similar to this:

Bus Dev VendorId ProductId Enabled Can Connect to VM Name

1 2 658 200 true yes Sigma Designs, Inc. Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5 (ZW090) - UZB
1 3 59b 370 true yes Iomega Corp.

Enable the usbarbitrator daemon with the following command:

/etc/init.d/usbarbitrator start

I hope this helps others!

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