Meaning of "OS" for a returner

Some background: I’ve used SmartThings for quite a few years, and Vera before that. I have over 40 Zwave devices, over 15 Zigbee, I use Webcore with dozens of pistons, I use(d) Google Assistant for voice commands, etc etc. Vera had been very restrictive, I went to SmartThings, and couldn’t get it to do what I want, so tried HA. It was… Rough.

All I’ve ever known was Windows, but two years ago (maybe a bit more?) I had a spare PC - installed Linux, installed HA/Docker/etc. Used my SmartThings device solely as a Zwave and Zigbee receiver. I was able, eventually, to get it working, and then tried to get it to… Well… DO things. I just couldn’t grasp it. Tried Node Red for a week, watching videos, reading, asking questions… I couldn’t. I just couldn’t get it. So after a month, I went back to SmartThings.

Now, the delay caused by SmartThings so frequently, it’s frequent downtime, and I’m recently unable to relink SmartThings with Google Home (Assistant)… I think it’s time to look at HA again.

When I hear Home Assistant OS - I immediately thing it’s like Windows or Linux. You turn on a PC and boot into it, and any extras you need are simple to install, without all the hoops to jump through that I used to have to on Linux.

I imagine that after a couple years HA has gotten more user friendly, and I still have that spare PC.

Can I use my spare PC to load up and use HA OS, and use my SmartThings as a zwave/zigbee receiver? I really don’t want to buy a USB Zwave/zigbee stick and have to learn everything to it - several devices are tough to get to.

Can I use HA OS WITH SmartThings? Like - use HA to control a few switches, to give me Google Assistant Voice commands over everything, but still use SmartThings and Webcore to control other things?

Finally - IS HA/Node Red a bit easier/friendlier to use as opposed to a couple years ago? I’m not opposed to learning and researching, but whew, I remember the combo of learning Linux and Node Red just being overwhelming.

Thanks so much for your time and replies!

Home Assistant OS is one of four different ways to install Home Assistant. The table in this post explains the major differences between them:

The main difference is that Home Assistant OS includes everything including a streamlined operating system. It’s not a general purpose operating system but customized to require very few resources and to run on specific hardware platforms. That means it won’t run on just any machine but only the ones it supports (RPi and Intel NUC).

If you’re like me and want to use an ancient laptop, you will need to use Home Assistant Supervised. You must supply the operating system: Debian Linux.

As for SmartThings, have a look at the integration for it:

As for Node-Red, it’s available as an Add-On (Add-Ons are supported by Home Assistant OS and Home Assistant Supervised). Installation is a matter of a few clicks.

Overlooked to say: Welcome back!

Heh, Thanks! I THINK I’m there - still making 100% sure I’m going to be able to handle it. To my credit I did read what you linked a few days ago.

So if I use my old PC (in the same way as you’re using an ancient laptop - it really IS an old PC that I’d use ONLY for HA), I need to install Linux on it, THEN install HA Supervised, which seems to me is what I used a few years ago. LOL I get to relearn Linux again, and all of it’s… (To me) Weirdness.

I don’t quite understand the difference between an old (a few years old, an I5) PC, and an Intel NUC. Other than physical size, I don’t understand why they can’t be treated the same.

I’m using a 10-year old laptop with a Core2 Duo processor. Pretty sure your Core i5 is younger and more capable; you should be fine.

Follow kango_who’s excellent installation instructions for Home Assistant Supervised on Debian 10.

The hardware in one manufacturer’s PC isn’t the same as in another manufacturer’s PC. When you install Windows, the installation process detects what kind of hardware is present and selects the appropriate drivers. If you were to then take a disk image of the finished installation and attempt to install it on another manufacturer’s PC, what do you think the odds are that it would use exactly the same drivers?

Home Assistant OS is distributed as a disk image. That disk image contains all the drivers it needs to run on a specific kind of hardware. There’s an image for an RPi and another one for Intel NUC. Unless your PC is a clone of an Intel NUC, one of the configured drivers in the image (networking, USB, disk, graphics, etc) won’t be the right one and it fails to boot (or behaves badly).

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That was a PERFECT explanation and I understood it completely! THANK you!

I’ll read up on kango_who’s that you linked to shortly - my i5 is a 2500, 16G ram, should be ok.

So I read the integration of Smartthings… I kind of got much of it, but I’m still unsure on a few things.

If I “tell” HA to turn on a light - and that light is a zwave light through SmartThings, and, when using SmartThings used to have to go through the SmartThings cloud to execute a turn on/off command… Am I now still using the SmartThings cloud to execute that HA on/off command? What if SmartThings network goes down? Heck, what if MY internet goes down? Or is, once I do the HA integration, SmartThings effectively just a zwave/zigbee xmtr/rcvr? Or - do I really need to get a zwave/zigbee USB stick and transfer (ugh) everything over?

The SmartThings integration does rely on a connection to the SmartThings cloud so, naturally, its operation depends on their cloud’s availability.

There is another technique but it requires far more configuration. I’m not a SmartThings user so I can’t comment on how well it works or how many people are still using it. Anyway, before the SmartThings integration was created, this other technique was the ‘go-to’ method for connecting SmartThings with Home Assistant. In a nutshell, it uses MQTT to communicate between the two platforms and this communication is all local.

Direct link to the GitHub repo:

screams I think I’ll get a USB Zwave/Zigbee stick and just slowly bring all my devices over.

So - I read what you linked, the kanga_who thread. While it seems pretty easy to follow… It’s followed up with 165 posts of “no, this needs to be done.” “No, you need to add this” “You also should do THIS” “Oh, this is out of date, do this” “I couldn’t do THIS without adding THIS code”… I don’t know WHAT to follow and what I need to change.

Kango_who does a good job of updating the instructions and incorporates user feedback. Just follow the instructions. Should you encounter a glitch, well, it’ll be your turn to comment in the thread. :man_shrugging:

Ok, ok thanks. I appreciate your responses!!

I think I’ll do it, and try with Smartthings first, and then evaluate.

Most of the user comments with problems in that thread are from either not following the instructions properly, some sort of hardware/bios issue (which is outside of the scope of the install instructions) or because the HA devs have pushed an update and someone has tried to use that guide in-between the update and me correcting the instructions to match, which I normally do within about 12-24hrs. Largely, you should have no issues.

I regularly re-test all my own guides to see if they work and do the same if a user posts an issue to see if I can replicate issue on my end, which mostly I can’t due to the reasons listed above. I have used the Debian 10 guide on 3 different old machine I have - a Dell Optiplex SFF 990, Dell USFF 790, and a Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop, all worked without issues, your mileage may vary though. If you choose to use it, let me know in the thread how you go.


Hey I really appreciate your post! That goes a long way in reassuring me - I’m definitely going to do it then.

I have a home-built PC (I’ve always built my own). It’s an i5-2500K on an Asus P8P67 Pro (3.1) with 16G Ram and a EVGA GTX 970 GPU. LOL The very PEAK of technology… In 2011! But it’s a decent computer I’ve been using to run AI software for my outdoor cameras (I’ll use a different PC for that now).

I’ll post to give an update when I do it, on your thread.

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