Why are there 4 versions of Home assistant?

Why are there 4 versions (OS,Container,Core,Supervised)of Home assistant?
Thanks

It is not so much that there are four different versions, but that Home Assistant is buit up in layers. If you want a hassle free system that takes care of everything for you, you can use the whole set, which even includes a prepared OS for everything.

Hassle free however also means no control over the OS and what is in it. It does provide a way to install other software, but those need to be Home Assistant Addons. Addons are used for additional software that is not part of Home Assistant, but is useful in combination with Home Assistant. The software in the addon is almost always software you can install in different ways too, and also even on different computers. For instance, a database management system. The addons make it easier to use the software with Home Assistant.

Not every one will want a closed of, dedicated Home Assistant OS, so you can decide not to use the OS. If you still want the addons, you can use supervised. If you also prefer to install the software that is in the addons yourself, you can opt for Docker, which is a great way to run different software side by side. But if you do not want to run Home Assistant containerized, or use a different type of container, you can use Host. That is the actual, bare bones Home Assistant software.

But each layer you take off will mean you will need to do more yourself and have more knowledge to get things done. So it all comes down to freedom of choice and grades of assistance to make life easier for those who do not want full control but ease of use.

Be aware that most online guides assume HAOS, or at least supervised. For instance, supervisor will add functionality to the Home Assistant user interface to manage the addons. That won’t be there if you pick Docker or Core. It will be harder to get help if you do use less layers. Because the assumption is that you do not take away a layer of support to take control over that part unless you know what you are doing. If you do not have a drivers license, you take the bus, not the car.

If you have trouble deciding, OS is your best bet. I never regretted the choice.

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For the tl;dr ones:
Choice, balancing control vs. easiness depending on your IT skills.

From most easy to most controllable:

  • HAOS
  • Supervised (that one is kind of legacy; it’s neither easy not controllable, really :wink: )
  • Container
  • Core (i.e. python venv)

Thank you for your assistant