I agree with your initial reactions. And I have recently felt all that pain myself.
It took me much longer than I’d like to admit to set up:
- A Raspberry PI with the OpenHAB software with the correct addons and
finding my z-wave usb dongle
- The Designer UI running on my Mac
- A file share on the PI of the OpenHAB folder which the Designer could work with
Next one was trying to figure out the various config files. First the syntax and next how my configuration should look. Now, I’m a fairly experienced geek so how hard could it be? Harder than I thought!
I had a lot of problems just finding the necessary information.
My biggest problem was that there (to my knowledge) is no simple way to see what is going on inside the system. I tried to install habmin (which was a nightmare in itself - had to find a post somewhere describing the recommended AND an alternative way (because the recommended way did not work for me) which also involved copying files around, moving some, etc.
In the end I got it up and running. Found a tab called “Log viewer” - wohoo!
Except… it was empty (and to this day I have still not found a single entry appear in it). This was a little frustrating. (It also turned out to have several other quirks forcing you to reload the entire page (and navigating back to where you were in the UI) every now and then. Also frustrating.)
Next I found that I had to SSH to the Raspberry and do this:
tail -N 1000 -F /opt/openhab/logs/openhab.log
in order to see anything going on. The pictured started to clear up, but there was very little info about the z-wave devices I was trying to configure. Turned out I had to modify the log configuration file to increase the verbosity of that particular code (and place it into a separat zwave.log file). Now we’re talking!
The time and energy to get this far has been… tireing. With a life going on at the same time, coming this far has taken several months. Granted this is not all openhabs mistake as such, but things get just way too complex and you start procrastenating. And I fear the day when it has all been running for a year and I need to troubleshoot and have to relearn everything.
The above was not meant as much a rant on OpenHAB, but as a list of things to look at when getting started, but also to add this:
With all these complicated steps going on, I still feel OpenHAB is better then all the other alternatives!!
I own a Vera Edge z-wave controller. It’s UI is terrible, the software is slow and has been buggy since I purchased it 6 months ago despite several firmware updates.
I have tried Domoticz. In order to be able to run Domoticz, I had to compile not only the software itself but also some plugins (open-zwave) and had to troubleshoot why the compiler failed because of missing dependencies. Then, it every now and then crashed and I could not get it to run again. In the meantime I had to resort to use a flashlight for about a week when I had to go to the toilet. No fun.
You say that 99.9% would not use OpenHAB. I say 99.9% of users would not use any home automation software at the moment.
Now that I have come this far with OpenHAB I feel confident that this is really the best there is. Domoticz crashing all over = fail.
Vera Edge UI slow buggy and hides too much of what was going on underneath. I could for the life of me not figure out how to turn on and off a light using a simple remote. OpenHAB does seem to be much more transparent in this.
So, being part of the 0.1% who are willing to invest this much time and energy in home automation, OpenHAB seems great. I have no idea how we go from this, however to providing home automation for the masses. And we need to address that in my opinion.
One other thing I’m a little worried about is system stability. OpenHAB as such has not crashed much on me yet, but I have had my fair share of Raspberries instantly die on me (flash used up? OS corrupt? no idea). A home automation system needs to survive 10 years without supervision. I don’t think mine will.
I think we need to consider ourselves early adopters! The pioneers of home automation!