It was fun while it lasted!

First post ever here and my sentiment has already been expressed but anyway…
I am very grateful for all of those who choose to donate their time and expertise to this awesome project. I started a few years ago with OH1 and currently am in the late stages of switching over to OH2. I am not a programmer or IT person and I will not embarrass myself with the number of hours I have spent on OH2. Can it be frustrating? Sure. Could some of the documentation be better? Sure. But, when I embarked on this project I knew going in I would struggle before I learned. I knew that as opensource software, I would not have access to service on demand. And I knew that if I found that the software was too complex or wasn’t reliable enough for my needs that I would look elsewhere. It was my choice to take on this project and it has been my experience that the forums almost always provide an answer or at least enough of a clue to get me past a roadblock.

IMHO, DIY projects are largely about learning new skills. When learning new skills, there is always some sort of learning curve depending on your experience. If you aren’t willing to put the effort in, then perhaps DIY and opensource isnt your cup of tea. I have been frustrated a lot setting up my ha, but I havent quit because I’m too cheap and I enjoy the effort and challenge. Plus at this point I doubt my wife could turn on a light by herself.


You are probably right. But then you could ask yourself, why having the openhab2-addons repo anyway? Because if you deployed to Eclipse Marketplace, you will never go through the full process and your binding might contain serious bugs that only emerge one OH version later.

If developers didn’t contribute their time and effort to deliver to the Open Source community their binding code, we would be nowhere now… there would be no openHAB project (or Linux).

I welcome even a half baked, completely broken binding contribution from anyone (of course such binding would never “go live” since there is QC in place… with a lot of (not visible) effort from other maintainers who check and validate the code).

Imo, it is more up to the community members to test, document, improve, use, debug, whatever activity anyone can assist with. The original developer could stop supporting his/her binding at any time (even before merge). S/he has already added a lot of value to the project and in no way s/he should be held “responsible” for the future of the code. Anyone can copy (fork) it at any moment and improve it.

You should really Google “FOSS” to learn something new about contributors, maintainers and general community support.

ditto !

just check for a second what Chris has done:
(and how many “invisible” comments (too many examples to list) he has posted on github, helping other developers improve their code and users to debug their cases…)

If you insult a person like this, you should accept his reaction also (which I fully understand and back up)



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Am I the only one thinking we should cool down? Emotionally I can emphasize with the topic creator. It really sucks when things are running and some day -bam- nothing works like expected. And often the faults differ. Sometime logs are freaking out,sometimes the binding isn’t working,sometimes the OEM has changed his firmware.
It’s Open source. I am thankful for that and for all of the maintainers. On the other hand I myself am thinking "shall I continue maintaining my personal server instance or give a **** and go old-school to analog usage.
It is not some kind of software that runs by itself,yeah. Every user has to put effort in it,yeah. And a lot is done from the maintainers,e.g. PaperUI. So thank you for your support maintainers,developers,reviewers.
But as myself being a developer and even experienced in Java, am asking is it worth the effort.
My Xiaomi devices don’t work anymore for…surely 2 months and you know what,I don’t care. My advice to other people using different systems:keep it simple. Take as few systems as possible. Do backups,do a lot of backups, do a changelog,do it as a hobby.
I really think OH2 is great, with the variety of possibilities comes the price of complexity,every developer knows that. And ur depending on the manufacturers. That’s the price you pay. But that price still is little compared to all the contributors here,so big Thank You to all of you contributors and don’t forget:critics are always interest. The topic owner honored this project by selecting and using it. And he took his time to type that text. Never forget.


I see multiple things being mixed up.

I agree that OH is open source and as long as it does not offer a payed option for support, it is not a system for everyone

I agree that the community does it’s best to help
I agree that in a lot of cases the people in need of help, are not providing a lot of information needed, so that they can be helped
I do think that for people who are new to Openhab, a certain version or new to a binding, it’s hard to find out what is needed

I also think that when that happens, this community could be nicer to the people who are in need of help.

When we are nicer, we understand the problem better, we can help this person better, yet even more important, we can improve the system, the documentation and everything else, for everyone else.

I disagree, that this community is not a helpdesk. It is a helpdesk, it’s even the only helpdesk. YET it is an unpaid helpdesk. And this means we are limited to how we can help. AND yes people who give all the needed information are helped faster helped.
And we need to figure out a better way to help them give that information.

The best documentation is written by the people who use a system, not by the people who wrote the system. I’m convinced that if this community get better at being nicer to the people who don’t understand everything, these same people will be the once who improve the documentation to get to a next level.

I also agree that Opensource software is faster at fixing bugs and not worse at documentation then commercial products. yet because it’s faster at fixing stuff, it could also turn into faster at fixing documentation bugs.


While I agree that sometimes things go wrong, I feel that „demanding“ better software and support from people who are giving their free-time to OpenHAB/ESH is way off.

And it is simply not true that „commercial“ software is not suffering from these problems. Have a look at the support forums of Ubiquiti, Mikrotik or QNAP (which are three I read on a regular basis). They all have bugs with new releases, some more severe than others. But they have in common that it usually takes a lot longer to get things back on track than on OH/ESH (some took years or are even declared as „features“ or „impossible to fix“). And they get paid for it.

And no, I don‘t appreciate „you made a shitty piece of software“ comments - no matter how long the poster needed to write that down. I do however appreciate every line of code or documentation contributed to the project and every bug report and feature request made by the community.


One of the common threads to virtually every open source project I’ve seen is issues with documentation, education and support. I have used Firefox forever and I find the support to be one of the worse. But the redeeming quality is that it doesn’t need support so often. It just works 99.99% of the time. That seems to be the typical scenario for successful FOSS projects. They are built to work the vast majority of the time so the few problems that do occur don’t swamp the support system.

I’m not really involved with OpenHAB because when I took a look at it I didn’t find enough introductory material to allow me to understand how the software worked and what was required to put together a system on a high level view from a new user’s perspective. I figured if I couldn’t wrap my head around this software enough to even understand the basics, it was going to be a real uphill climb for me to get a system working reliably.

This is not intended to be a jab at anyone. I’m just giving the view of the system from the perspective of a new user. I may return at a later date and make another pass at it. In the mean time I’m limited by the phone apps that come with the various products. Oh well.

I really wonder how many of the people that complain about the quality of the documentation actually dedicated time and effort to improving said documentation after they figured out (possibly with help of the forum) what they were missing.


Did you take the New User Tutorial ? Read the concepts and configuration sections ?
If you feel that to be insufficient for a new user, please tell us what’s missing.

_Ok, you asked, so here is my take. _

_1) I"m not a new user. I want to learn about the software so I can decide if I want to be a user. _
2) Before I can use this tutorial I have to install OpenHAB.

" This tutorial assumes that you already installed openHAB on your preferred system. If you’re looking for installation instructions for your platform, please have a look here before continuing with this tutorial!"

Before I can install OpenHAB I have to install Java 8.

" Make sure that you have an up to date Java 8 platform installed on your host system. Zulu is currently the recommended Java platform for openHAB. Download and installation instructions can be found on Azul Systems’ Zulu website. Oracle Java is also suitable for most configurations but licencing restrictions may apply. OpenJDK may also be used, but it has some known limitations with openHAB and is not recommended."

The download link brings up a page that is entirely grayed out and I can’t find a way to get past. Oh wait, I had to scroll back to the top of the page and close some cookie window. Ok, but before I install Java reading the instructions I need to do this…

"Zulu Release 11.2, 8.33, 8.32, 7.25, and 6.22

December 11, 2018

Azul® Zulu® is a Java Development Kit (JDK), and a compliant implementation of the Java Standard Edition (SE) specification that contains all the Java components needed to build and run Java SE applications. Zulu has been verified by passing all tests in the Java SE 11, Java SE 10, Java SE 9, Java SE 8, Java SE 7, and Java SE 6 versions of the OpenJDK Community Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK).

This document describes how to install the Zulu JDK on your Microsoft® Windows®, Linux, and Apple® macOS® systems.

You can download a PDF version of this document.

Topics included in this documentation are listed below.

Ok, I’m throwing in the towel! I was looking for something to explain how OpenHAB works and what all the terms mean so I can get an idea of what it will be like to get involved. This is looking like it will be easier to learn brain surgery and more likely to produce good results.

I remember reading the materials. The section titled " Things, Channels, Bindings, Items and Links" starts out good explaining Things well as physical entities, then covers Channels and so forth, but ends up rather abstract with an example of physical things that are not all Things. So now I don’t know what Things are again. The diagram does not show Channels, Bindings or Links. Channels are mentioned which in the drawing appear to be the outputs. The text says “The glue between Things and Items are Links”. I don’t see Bindings mentioned at all in this example. So I guess this is all far more abstract than the simple diagram.

On to the Things detailed description. The first paragraph is a bit confusing again, but the last sentence seems to explain it all. “From a user perspective, they are relevant for the setup and configuration process, but not for the operation.” So Things are things that need to be configured.

I got further this time than I did on my own a while back. But I’m still swimming. This is the sort of stuff a developer would need to know. Is this all really needed for a user to simply install and use the system??? Do I really need a Java 8 developers kit?

Frankly I don’t understand your approach. If you were just looking to “understand” OH and if it could be something for you, you wouldn’t have needed to install anything and could have just read the docs and forum.
But now that you decided to install it instead, there’s a number of choices you have to take such as hardware and Java.
I feel that none of the annoyances of selecting proper HW and Java download are fair to be attributed to openHAB - it’s just the way of the world that there’s many potential servers and Java providers, each to bring their pros and cons and to enforce their own licensing model.
I admit this can be annoying for people who just want something to work out of the box but it is boon and bane since on the other hand it allows for a large hardware and user base.
You could have chosen the openHABian-on-Pi image approach if you were out for the ‘simple box’ approach.

I also think that your comparison to Firefox falls short. Firefox is nowhere near OH in terms of complexity. Unfortunately this leads to sometimes ‘abstract’ parts of the basic docs since they are supposed to be correct for all use cases. Yes things are physical things most of the time, but there’s also virtual things e.g. when you ‘remote control’ some other HA system that in term controls the physical devices.
I can’t really comment on the docs, maybe someone else like @Confectrician can. I admit the learning curve is a bit steep but then again I feel it’s better to explain the hard part right in the beginning rather than to let people dig further in with a lack of or wrong understanding. And yes, every user who wants to get the full benefits needs to understand the concepts some day.
Maybe it’s also a wording thing, most docs contributors are not native English speakers. But you and every other user are invited to help enhance this. Correct them yourself (there’s a link at the bottom of each page) or just open a thread on the forum if you need clarification. And Marcel is right.


Many people (including myself), read a manual to decide if they want to buy / install something.

With openhab there is a demo site shows the product, so that part is already covered (Probably could be mentioned in the install file)

yet that is not enough to decide if a product like openhab would work for me.
I need to understand some basics on how to get stuff installed.

That is why many products these days have a quick install card inside the box.

I think what @gnuarm is looking for here, is the quick install guide, to figure out what he needs to do to understand if he can even understand how to get started.


To be clear, I started by trying to read the docs. That was a couple of months ago and I described what I ran into. I only considered installing the software when Markus suggested I read the Tutorial where the first step is installing the software. Did you not actually read my post???

I would love to help with documentation. But I think this is a project that is ok with complexity and it would be a massive uphill battle to find ways to mitigate exposing the complexity to the user.

I can’t discuss the issues you raise with Java being inevitable because I don’t know anything about why it is used here. But surely Java is not an inherent part of a user experience. You mention people just wanting something to work “out of the box”. What is this stuff for if not for people to use??? Even suggesting that I could use the openHABian-on-Pi approach ignores the issue that I still know nothing about OpenHAB.

When you claim Firefox is nowhere near as complex as OpenHAB I think you are confusing complexity with operation. I am pretty sure Firefox is much more complex than OpenHAB will ever be and I suspect you actually understand this. The difference is Firefox hides its complexity and makes the software easy to use… relatively that is. lol I still have to do Google searches from time to time to make something work correctly.

BTW, not sure what you mean about Marcel being right. He didn’t make a statement, he “wondered” about a supposition. So what would he be right about?

I offered my point of view and Markus made a suggestion and asked my opinion. If my opinion is not welcome that’s fine, I won’t bother giving it anymore. Just let me know which. I return here from time to time to see if I can do a better job of understanding what OpenHAB is and how it works.

From another user who didn’t know anything about openHAB before I started using it: I found the best way to get your head around it is “learning by doing”. Install it and try it out! That’s btw a general advice for just about everything computer-related.

But then again, if you don’t even know what java is (and - more importantly - don’t have an interest in finding out) then perhaps you should go with a commercial system like Hue or SmartThings…


I would like to join some previous speakers here.

The Openhab community is a great thing. I have rarely received a better “help desk”, even with purchased products. You always get help 24/365 and completely free!

If you decide to use Openhab, you should be aware that it is open source software (not commercial!). However, without a minimum of technical understanding, it would be better to use another system, e.g. a commercial product like Magenta Smarthome. Or better, the desired product should be installed by a professional.

Also the documentation is much better than it is proclaimed here by some people. Mostly I found what I was looking for. Also proper searching must be learned!

Everything I did not find in the documentation was mostly answered by the community or I found it there!

The rest was learning by doing! And reading a lot.

I find it totally unfair when Openhab is blamed for someones own carelessness.
There is a new release? Yeah, just update it!
No backup? Did not read any releases notes? Did not read instructions?
Blame yourself!

Even if you had done everything mentioned, errors can still occur. We all make mistakes.


openHAB also suffers from trying to be backwards compatible.

There are multiple ways of doing something:

  • Textual vs web-rest-interface [PaperUI])
  • Some bindings (legacy ones) are directly acting on Items, some (OH2-bindings) do a Thing/Channel/Item architecture
  • We have Sitemaps (OH1) vs habPanel.
  • “New actions” architecture vs “old actions” architecture.
  • DSL rules vs scripts.

The community and developers should decide on one single way and improve that to a state, that a second way would not be required. Less confusion for users and less code to be maintained.

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The part about installing Java threw me to when I first gave openHAB a try. Followed the links and had no idea what I was supposed to download or install. Finally just gave up and installed openHAB. Guess what, it ran. It was a Windows 8.1 and had Java installed. Maybe a script or install routine that checks if you already have Java

To pacive

Amen! I know how to program in several languages. I know a bit about Java. But no, I have zero interest in programming in Java to use a wifi connected switch. I have one that came with software (although only on the phone) and another similar. One app is pretty good and the other is crap. But at least I can use them.

Everyone is free to do things as they wish. But it just seems so overkill to ask a user to do programming to use an open source project. I guess that is just me. Enjoy

What programming is required to run an OH installation? Aside from installing the prerequisites (on pretty much any OS of your choice), the only thing really required to be done outside of the GUI is a custom sitemap…and I think even that can be done through an automated script now.

To insinuate that OH requires “programming” knowledge to run an installation of it, in my opinion, is a slight on all these developers who have put these tools at our fingertips in about as understandable a way as I can possibly comprehend.

I missed out on a lot of the OH1 days, but if you think OH2 requires “programming”, then you would have REALLY had a difficult time in the OH1 version. It has come a really long way in a short amount of time. Paper UI is HUGE for this software. It’s not perfect, but I have done everything in the GUI aside from a sitemap and some automation rules (which also are now possible to implement from Paper UI).

If you don’t read the docs, I can understand how it can be considered complex. And even after reading the docs, it’s not a walk in the park, but home automation is a complex subject.

This community is incredibly helpful and I won’t even attempt to list all those that have just helped ME directly. This forum may not be a help desk but it is an excellent knowledge base. Searching Google for my question with “openHAB” attached to it yields a previous question (which has already been solved) 90% of the time. The other 10%, I typically piece together multiple posts or try and solve on my own.

But I don’t think any of that sounds unreasonable.