Looking to switch to Linux from Windows laptop

I’ve been running OH2 on a Windows laptop for years. I am certainly more familiar with Windows than Linux, but I feel like I’m missing out on new features, as well as tips and tricks when it comes to support from the community. I tried looking at Raspberry Pi, but one of the things I like about the laptop is that I can move it around to all 20-something of my ZWave devices when I’ve had to do a full re-pairing - this has happened a few times over the years, unfortunately. Since Raspberry Pi isn’t a laptop, I’m not sure I would have the same mobility within the house.

I’m curious how others deal with this problem? Are you able to reliably pair ZWave devices through the ZWave network? This has always been hit or miss for me. Do you get an obscenely long USB cable to stretch out your ZWave antenna? Do you put it on a laptop and move around to the various stations? I have zero experience with Raspberry Pi, but perhaps even just reformatting the Windows laptop with a version of Linux would be a better option for me.


Your devices are paired to your Z-Wave stick, not your computer. So you should just be able to plug it into an RPi and immediately see them when you install the Z-Wave binding. No re-pairing should be necessary, though I can appreciate why that gives you pause.

The only thing I’ve had trouble with is my Z-Wave doorlock, because secure inclusion is notoriously finicky. For that, I just powered the RPi with a USB power bank so that I could get it within a couple of feet of the door.

What features do you think you’re missing out on? If you’re talking about openHABian, then sure, you can manually install that on a Linux laptop, but it’s certainly easier to download the image to an SD card and then boot the RPi.

For what it’s worth, I knew almost nothing about Linux before I started using openHAB on an RPi. There’s a learning curve, but as you say there are lots of people here to help.

Well, that’s an interesting workaround. What mobile device do you plug it into? Windows laptop? What software do you run to access the ZWave controls on the stick?

I thought about a USB backup battery, wasn’t sure if the Raspberry Pi had the same kind of power source. So then the only trick is the display - I guess I would just access the webpage from a mobile device, so that I can be at the door at the same time for the time sensitive operation.

I’ve been told on here in the past that the majority of users are on Linux of some flavour. There’s a few scripts I’ve seen that are written for Linux, but I’ve been told to just look at what it does to replicate the same thing for Windows. I’ve also had some stability issues with my Windows install lately, and it’s been annoying. I used to use Linux a couple decades back, so it’s not that foreign to me - hopefully it’s advanced somewhat since then!

My controller is plugged into a tower on my second floor (i.e., completely immobile). I have always had my controller set to utilize network-wide inclusion and I have never had any difficulty with this even for devices in the basement. However, I’ve only been using z-wave for 2 years or so, so all of my devices are newer zwave plus devices and my network mesh is very robust. I just carry around my tablet and run the inclusion through the OH web interface (this worked with both OH2 and now OH3*).

Being somewhat fearless (i.e., too clueless to know better), my door lock was one of the very first devices I tried to include in my network. As a result of attempting this as a complete z-wave novice it took me many attempts and failures. It was long enough ago at this point, however, that I cannot reconstruct which of my stumbling attempts was the successful one though I do now have my lock securely included despite the stick being on the second floor.

*-When I upgraded to OH3 I did have three battery devices that ceased working. Several weeks and dozens of inclusion attempts later, in a fit of desperation, I decided to try to open zwave control panel and successfully included each of them on the first try. There is no rational explanation for this: both OZCP and OH were accessing the same function on the same chip using the same api to include the same devices. I’m not picky, however, I’ll take my miracles whenever they come my way.

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In case you do not use your Laptop for anything other than openHAB at the moment I would consider this to different issues.

  1. Windows or Linux?
  2. Laptop or anyother device (like RaspberryPi)

Meaning: You could just install Linux on your laptop and have best of both worlds.

I am not familiar with the Linus Subsystem for Windows.
But maybe you could even use openHAB on Linux while still ave Windows on your Laptop.

There’s a toggle in the Zwave Controller Thing to enable network inclusion. This should be enabled by default. You have to click on “Advanced” to see that option on the Thing. When this is enabled you do not need to move the controller to include devices.

In fact it is my understanding that doing can actually cause problems because signal strength and neighbors and stuff like that are used to help form the mesh network. When you move the controller to the device the mesh doesn’t get set up right.

And as Russ indicates, you do not need to repair the devices when migrating from one machine to the next. They are all stored on the controller.

That’s how I do inclusion of new devices for Zwave and Zigbee. I install the device where it is going to go, bring up MainUI on my phone or tablet/Chromebook, and start scanning for new devices. That puts the controller or coordinator into pair mode. Then I click the button on the device, or what ever is appropriate to include it and it shows right up.

It doesn’t (or at least didn’t the last time I looked at it some months ago) support USB passthrough so there’s no access to the Zwave controller.

I have never had luck with network wide inclusion - doesn’t work for switches or secure devices, no matter how many times I’ve tried, which is why I’ve always had to go around to the different devices to re-pair them. I’ve given up on trying.

I’ve never had problems with the mesh network - it always rebuilds itself every day anyway.

It’s a dedicated laptop, so I wouldn’t be opposed to replacing it with a Linux install, as long as I have a path back should everything not work as intended. I’m a little concerned that I might not find the drivers for the built-in hardware or the ZWave controller, whereas the Raspberry Pi is pretty standard. It’s not a new device though, so maybe that concern is unfounded. I can’t say the prospect of finding the right distribution to put onto the thing isn’t somewhat daunting! LOL…

Have you thought about building a VM on the Windows laptop and passing the zwave stick into the VM to test with a Linux OH install and get a feel for things before you make any large jumps and decide to stick with your Windows install?

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You can just run Linux on a USB stick on the laptop to test everything out and not touch the hard drive.
Similar to this: Install Ubuntu 20.04 On LIVE USB / SSD With Persistent Storage (Plug & Play) - YouTube

Or you can look up how to dual boot Linux and windows.

I haven’t used windows for over 10 years and don’t miss the drama of finding drivers etc. Most of the Linux software just works. It is not perfect but I am used to it.

Hmmm I hadn’t thought of that, that’s a good idea. So now I need to figure out which one. Reading this morning, it looks like openHABian is for Raspberry Pi, so I should probably go the Package Repository Installation route? Is Ubuntu your recommended OS, or should I go with Debian or something else? Looking specifically for what openHAB plays best with, that might not kill my 10+ year old Acer Aspire 5742…

Ha! Most Windows users say the opposite. Then again, my work is all in Windows, so I’m biased :slightly_smiling_face:

I suggest you go for openHABian on a Raspberry and add a small UPS to it.
Going with the mainstream will save you from lots of trouble in the first place.

An UPS makes sense in either case but that way you can even move the Raspi server around should there be a need to move it closer to some device for inclusion.

I used to work inn corporate IT and it was all windows and I am not biased towards windows. :no_mouth:

If it were my setup I would use the laptop and it debian or Ubuntu server software and then you can run lots of other stuff on it but you could have issues with conflicting software breaking things.

I am running oh3 on proxmox VM Ubuntu 20.04 and that VM also does my weather station, unifi controller in docker and lots of other things.

Obviously you don’t need all that. If the laptop is going to be dedicated oh3 then you can also test it by putting on another hard drive if you want to keep what you have already.

Also the laptop you won’t need a ups as it has a battery.

I have raspberry pi as well but the SD card dies eventually and currently I am just using that for zigbee2mqtt.

Anyway you have options on what you can do.

There is no one right way to do things. Think outside the square. :bulb:

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It is advisable to go with the official recommendations (if it exists like it does for openHAB).
It’s save you from pitfalls others have gone through before you, and it’ll get you support a lot easier when you’re using the same system as many others do.

openHABian has many features to mitigate SD card corruption and other potential breakages.
Don’t ignore the risks (now that you consider switching system it is the right time to give this some thought) but you need not reinvent the wheel.

Hi NellC,
I am looking for someone that has been able to restart bundles from a rule on Windows. Restarting bundles under Linux did work but I am struggling under windows… Thanks for any help