My Home Assistant installations have come full circle, back to RPi

Hey all, somewhat of a newbie rant here, sorry but just sharing some frustrations.

The Good:
I’ve learned a lot about Home Assistant

The Bad:
I haven’t learned enough about Home Assistant
I haven’t learned enough about Linux

So at Christmas I got 2 RPi 4’s (1 2GB and 1 4GB) with the intent of using 1 for pi-hole and 1 for HA. Once I started working with the HA install I came across all the information about bad SD cards and what not, so I tried to make it boot from an SSD. We all know that is not officially supported and until recently didn’t work at all. So I gave up on that and then started reading about VM installations, so I spent quite a few hours trying to get a Virtualbox install working on my windows 10 machine. I could get a machine up and running pretty easily, but the issue was keeping it up and running. After a single power off/on via the virtual box console the machine would fail to reboot as the bootloader could not find a bootable drive. I started looking into other VM software, docker, proxmox, etc… and this brings me to what, as a beginner, I think is the biggest issue with HA is, all the ways it can be installed. There’s too many, it’s overwhelming for someone that hasn’t spent years working with Linux.

So here I am, I have the RPi back out and am trying to figure out the “best install method” for me. Something that is easy, stable, and will help me learn a little about linux maybe? The Ubuntu or the Raspberry Pi OS supervised installs seem good, and I might be able to boot from my SSD… but are supervised installs being depricated? Or just “other linux” installs??? So confusing, so many things are changing all the time. It seems like the HassOS (Home Assistant, new name incoming) install is maybe intended for people like me to be the “easy” installation method but if it only works on an SD card I don’t want to spend even more time, actually get some devices added, then have it fail, i’d rather just do a supervised install on an SSD.

So what method do you all recommend for me based on my stream of consciousness thoughts above?

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Supervised installs are not deprecated. So if you want to run on a Pi4 with SSD, use that. There are guides in the community tutorials section.

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I respectfully disagree. Its ability to be installed on a variety of hardware platforms is one of its strengths. If one’s requirements outstrip the processing power of, for example, an RPI3, Home Assistant OS can be installed on a more capable machine (perhaps an Intel NUC).

Compare that to other available home automation “appliances” that are constrained to a single hardware platform. If you exceed the platform’s abilities, you have no option to upgrade other than buy another device and divide your automations between the two (and live with the additional complexity of this arrangement).

The Home Assistant OS installation method is designed to be installed on an SD card. Installation on an SSD is possible but by means of community-provided instructions. If neither an SD card nor jury-rigging it for SSD is acceptable to you, then the remaining three installation methods all assume you are familiar with Linux (and Docker). If you are not familiar with Linux, then you will have to learn, and if you don’t want to learn then Home Assistant OS is your only viable option, or an entirely different product.


EDIT
Have a look at the documentation for openHAB’s installation. It describes how to install it on:

  • Linux
  • Windows
  • macOS
  • openHABian
  • Raspberry Pi
  • Armbian
  • Docker
  • Synology DiskStation
  • QNAP NAS

All assume you know something about the underlying operating system (which happens to be Linux for most of its listed installation methods).

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I do see what you are saying of course. It’s actually both a strength and a weakness in my opinion, depending on the user. For the newbie entering into the home assistant universe for the first time it is overwhelming, and the question “what is the best install method” is bound to enter your mind at some point. And the answer will always be, “it depends”. For someone like me who wants a clear path to the best install method for me, there may not be a clear answer.

I’m certainly willing to learn or I wouldn’t still be here. I could go back to Smartthings and have the single platform that works well in the situations where it works. But even there I was trying to tweak things, get custom device handlers and what not, because ultimately it was not customizable enough, and that is how I ended up at Home Assistant.

Only if the novice chooses to skip the installation method recommended by the documentation (which is the all-singing, all-dancing, Home Assistant OS). If you avoid the suggested method then it certainly can become “overwhelming” especially if you have no experience with Linux (or Docker).

Using a car as a metaphor, the suggested vehicle model includes electronic automatic transmission with cruise-control. All other choices come with caveats about needed skills. Nevertheless, you chose the one with a no-synchomesh manual transmission and now you’re overwhelmed by the need to do something called “double-clutching”. :man_shrugging:

Install Home Assistant OS on the SD Card and offload the data partition to the SSD. Best install method with best reliable disk for data.

How to at the end of this doc:

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The biggest disadvantage of the Rpi is the SD card imho. Yeah you can run it on SSD but I’ve gone for a NUC with a M2.

I’m not saying installing on a NUC is easier, but it worked pretty well for me. I have worked with linux for a while though. Like it has been said before, you can ask for help here, the community is pretty helpful!

I have also a NUC with a M2 but he has 2 RPi 4 and an external SSD. He better use it.

When offloading data to the SSD, the SD card won’t be used a lot (read only)

Rpi on sd-card can work, MotionEyeOS proved it by moving almost al writes to ram. But in this case, if you really want to use Rpi, yeah go for ssd. If you can spend some money, I’d go for a nuc. Just my 2 cents.

Got HA Supervised installed on RPi4 4GB with USB 3.1 boot drive and it runs noticeably faster than booting from SD card.

I think Home Assistant’s biggest weakness is not the install methods (that was confusing until recently), but how quickly information gets outdated. Of course, that’s also a good thing, but it’s very easy to follow the wrong instructions or use the wrong code because the guide or website you were on posted it only a few months prior!

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I have been running PI’s for a few years now. HA is one of the apps I have dedicated a PI3b+ to. I learned the hard way that with PI’s and SD cards, nothing beats a quality SD card and solid power supply. I have had zero crashes and/or meltdowns using Samsung EVO cards and a minimum 2.5 amp power supply.

This is it in a nutshell. It’s so flakey and really hard to problem solve.

While others have disagreed that there are too many options, I have to say I agree with you. It does feel like, particularly on the OS, it would be great to have a little focus on getting at least one platform that worked reliably. On VM - there’s many reports (unanswered) on failure to reboot and corrupted systems. On Rpi there’s many more about the hammering that SD cards take.

HA is all shades of awesome. IMHO it lacks a single dependable OS. Without that, it won’t ever move out of the league of the hobbyist.

The experts may correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t a SD card last perfectly fine if you just config the databases on external devices (like a NAS)?

I think I am going to try this. That way I’m using the recommended “novice” install method and my SSD.

It’s not just the database. The swapfile and log files are other culprits.

I’ve been running Hassio on a RPi 3b+ and a 32 GB SD card for over 2 years now without any problems.
And even if there ever was a problem I’d be up and running again in no time thanks to daily, off-device automated backups (all tested of course).
Right from the start I chose the all-in-one installation (aio :crazy_face:) or whatever it is called today and never regretted it. Easy, reliable and low maintenance.

alright I think I have successfully installed Home Assistant OS and transferred the data to my SSD. I’m going to roll with this install for a while and see what I can get working. Thanks all for the help… I probably should have just done the RPi install to begin with, but sometimes I get sidetracked. Eventually when USB boot is fully supported it would make sense to remove the SD card completely but for now this is fine.