And as a new user if you just said exactly what you did above you have basically give us enough information to answer those questions. When new users just leave them blank or remove them we know nothing and have to play 20 questions on each and every newbee post.

Though I might also say that if a user is so much of a newbee that they don’t even know what OS they are running then OH might not be a good choice for them. As you will know, OH does require technical knowledge outside of OH itself to be used successfully.

But we are not paid to do this. We donate our very limited time supporting new users on this forum. To have the biggest impact and help the largest number of users possible we need to be carful with or time.

Frankly, going back and forth with a new user asking a bunch of questions is a waist of it time. Maybe if we had more than half a dozen or so users who cosistantly help the new users it would be a different story.

But you as there person asking the question have all the time in the world to look that information up before posting. When we lack that information we go from: “Oh, I know that problem, here’s a link to someone who solved it” = 2-5 minutes, to an exchange of hand a dozen questions and answers before we can even understand what the problem is = 20-30 minutes sometimes stretched over a couple of days.

It’s a waist of our precious time and totally unrewarding. Rarely are the new users grateful. We are not making any measurable impact on the other users or the OH project as a whole.

If someone wanted to volunteer to be first level tech support and all all these questions then tag the experts (e.g. opus for rrd4j, Udo for knx, Chris for zwave zigbee, Yannick for habpanel, me, Vincent, h101,etc. for rules, etc) this could work. But I don’t see anyone stepping up to do that and I’m not sure how effective that would be.

But one thing to realize here is if it takes too much time to help new users, we will lose some of the people who volunteer their time to help new users. I personally could easily and happily change my efforts to building bindings and coding for oh instead.

Thom Dietrich set the template up in the first place. I don’t see any way to do it myself as only a moderator. We probably need an admin to do it. I do like the idea. I think it came up to add links when we initially discussed this and I don’t remember why it was decided not to.

There’s a forum tutorial?! :wink:

Sounds like a good idea. We should probably start a new thread to discuss it.

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As you will know, OH does require technical knowledge outside of OH itself to be used successfully.

So and because I don’t know OS, I can’t use OH on linux?
I personally learn stuff by using it.I like to be the most stupid person in the room/forum. that’s how I grow.

My 11 year old daughter co-wrote the manual of our house, she is learning linux, OH and a lot of other stuff. because I was not afraid to learn OH in an environment I don’t understand.

I understand that it’s much easier to have experts on the OH forum, yet I think OH community is growing beyond experts and I consider that a good thing.
not everyone might want to invest in growing them. I do.
I learn faster by learning from others.

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No, but if you don’t even know you are running on Linux then yes. Successful configuration and use of OH requires at least knowing that much.

Plus you should know how you installed OH, how you installed the OS, where you download the OS from, and some of the basics for accessing and navigating the directory structure of said OS. All f these things are necessary skills and outside the scope of what we are able to help with here.

Well, like I said above, everyone in this forum is a volunteer. We are all going to do as much it as little as we choose to do. If you see a gap in how we support be users, to use the idiom, “step up or shut up.”

I don’t literally mean we don’t want to hear you or have theses sorts of conversations, but also realize that conversations like these are unlikely to change anyone’s behavior. We will all continue to answer the posts that we find interesting and ignore the rest. It’s our time and we will spend it how we wish. If you want to see a change, you need to be that change.

Take on this role for yourself. We certainly won’t stop you and would welcome the help. We really are overwhelmed and need all the help we can get.

Plus you should know how you installed OH, how you installed the OS, where you download the OS from, and some of the basics for accessing and navigating the directory structure of said OS. All f these things are necessary skills and outside the scope of what we are able to help with here.

All of these I learned by using OH. I a mean literally all and more.

Ignore the rest.

What I see is not ignoring yet also not always being nice to newbies.
and ignoring is then the better thing

It’s our time and we will spend it how we wish.

I understand I lead a few volunteering communities

I disagree that because people are volunteers they should not have respect for the people that ask for help. Realizing people ask for help and are not giving info because they are new is for me part of respect.

If you want to see a change, you need to be that change.

I have and I have since the day I started using OH.

This conversation is for me part in asking respect for newbies.
I have been asking a lot of question to newbies to see if we can find more info.

Anyway, i said what I can say about it . I’ll leave it here

Did a search and couldn’t find h101.:rofl:

I posted a suggestion the other day to have everyone add their platform info, OH version, OS used and maybe a couple things about the devices used to their profile. This way we can click their icon, see what the poster has and forgo the basic questions. It also eliminates having to retype this on each new topic. I know when creating a topic the questions are asked, but lots of help me questions come from topics already created and you find yourself asking the basics again.

Not sure if Discourse allows adding the above info to a profile mandatory before posting but it would be time saving for all.:crossed_fingers:


So that’s what you meant. I didn’t quite understand it that way.
That’s actually a good idea.

I know that’s in jest. But seriously, is there a way to “force” new forum users to complete the tutorials before they can post a question?

Count me in!

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Story of my life.:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

My wife tells me all the time, if someone trying to understand what you just wrote they’ll need to be a mind reader.:rofl:

Best I recall the tutorial just mentions to fill this out (new topic template) when creating a new topic. Basically the same thing seen and mostly ignored with a new topic now. I don’t see forcing someone to complete a tutorial as the solution. Maybe having to complete the template before the post will send could be an alternative?

I was going from memory. I knew it was H 100 something.

Maybe I’m just jealous. When they migrated everyone over from the Google forums it wasn’t until I have about 100 posts in that we learned how to change it handle. I was stuck keeping my name or losing that 100 or so postings. If totally be paperrhino otherwise.

I really like the idea of adding that info to the profile but have no idea if the forum will allow it.

I’m one of those newbies, but I’ve been a paid moderator in the past, BIX and The Source, and understand the problem. I will say that the level of help here seems to be quite above average. I never cease to be amazed at both the quality and response time of the replies from the people I assume freely contribute their time.

On the other side, the documentation is often quite minimal and hard to navigate and the install seems to leave out really import pieces like a default persistence binding. Conceptually not a problem to install, but as a newbie, I just want it to work, don’t understand why it’s not there and have no idea what’s the easiest to install and configure which is all I care about at this point.

I also try to contribute when I can, either I help or I learn from one of you what I’m doing wrong.

When I installed OpenHAB, I certainly expected it to be easier than it turned out to be, Kind of like 11 years ago when I installed Asterisk except this is a bit easier to get started on.

FWIW, I expected some easy way to set up things like schedules and scenes, when I spent a bucket load of money on Zwave stuff and installed OpenHAB I had expectations about what home automation meant and assumed that this would have all those features. I was wrong. I don’t regret my decision to choose OpenHAB and now that I have a couple of working rules that control a light, I’m sure I could do both of those with a bit of work.

Sorry about being so wordy.


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Isn’t that quite another type of problem ? It’s related, though.
It is about how to get a newbie’s initial setup working. The problem with that is that everybody wants to implement “his” setup right away before “learning” how to use the system in a generic sense. OH is so open and flexible that there’s also no “default” config to match every beginner and we don’t want to mandate any. That in turn would not meet many other users’ needs and possibly create future legacy problems: we had complaints from users using config that once long ago was part of demo setup or docs but no longer is, now when it needed to be changed because of ongoing development, they were expecting “someone” to tell them which of course can’t work.
Worse even, quite a lot of questions is due to users’ lack of knowledge on Home Automation technology in general rather than OH specific, it’s just the user does not understand that. And this is nothing we are willing to help with (at least not in the general case) because it would make the scope explode.
Hard to draw a proper line here …

Not to disagree, but as a newbie I somehow assumed that getting started would be easier. I’m not one to ask questions till I’ve spent way to much time trying to find the answer myself, but the curve to get something working and then having to back up and start over because I didn’t quite understand that life would be easier with item and sitemap files. I’m not complaining, but it seems to me that the level of knowledge to get started is so high that you’ve almost forced newbies to ask silly startup questions.

Partly I guess it’s a probably an almost universal misunderstanding of what home automation is and how OpenHAB fits into the picture. My understanding today is certainly much different today that it was 4 weeks ago. Maybe there needs to be a description of what OpenHab is and what will be expected of you as a new user.

Maybe also the installer could help by asking a bunch of questions offering to install the more common bindings and persistences with clear description about the choices.


Agreed!! Home automation is HARD.
People will see on TV a home then the blinds go up and the light dim automatically when the owner gets home but have NO idea of what goes on to make this happen.
The problem is compounded by the fact that there are so MANY different ecosystems out there with often incompatible hardware within the same brand!! This is where openHAB is strong. In can integrate (almost) anything. But that takes work, commitment and time…
Often, the newbie will expect nothing more than press install, have the system scan for devices and put it all on a fancy interface for them so that they have a fancy remote on their phone. That’s NOT automation, that’s home control. It’s easy to get, buy ALL your devices from the same manufacturer and use their app.

It gets hard when one needs to integrate incompatible devices in one system.
It gets hard when one needs to build an interface.
It gets hard when one needs to write a text file or a rule because the only previous interaction with computers was as a user of ready made software and never looked under the hood
It gets hard when one doesn’t bother to read and follow the docs and rushes into it

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Yes! This is where openHAB excels, yet also is its achilles heel. The device support can be overwhelming at times, especially for a new user. It makes getting started that much more challenging.

I came to openHAb because a) it had extensive device support and b) I could write bindings for the things it didn’t support. There are things openHAB is lacking, but those two features made for an easy decision.

The rate of change also can be a bit overwhelming. Again, a blessing and a curse. New features are available IMMEDIATELY (if you subscribe to snapshot releases). Keeping up can be a challenge, but I’d rather have new features (and bug fixes) right away, and am willing to take on some additional risk because of that. For a new user, however, it must be hard, when you’re on the now 5-month old 2.3 stable release, to have someone on the forum tell you to to install the latest milestone release, or god forbid, the unstable snapshot release. Ouch.

Yes, but the ability to build exactly what you want/need is sweet for sure. OTOH, as a new user, it can be quite frustrating staring at a blank sitemap wondering what to do first…


I have a second server that runs 2.4+ for testing, but my main OH is running 2.3 and I agree, this can be hard for new users. My advice is to choose your devices wisely but most, like myself, buy what on sell and worry about getting it to work with OH later. Guess I should listen to myself more often.:roll_eyes:

The documentation covers how to setup a basic sitemap but who doesn’t want a nicer more custom interface. It’s here the doc’s lack to provide good information and not to point a finger because this is where you need to have strong computer/programming skills. Most OH newbies are also first time linux users and things become even more frustrating, especially when reading an entire topic and finding this doesn’t apply to their OS. Not talking about a user interface only but OH in general.

Would it be beneficial if the forums main categories were broken down by the platform or OS used?

Would it be beneficial if the forums main categories were broken down by the platform or OS used?

That might be a little overkil and hard to do, yet better use of tagging might help.
As some topics work on multiple platforms or different bindings.

The more bindings are supported, the more OH is being used by people who are less interested in building their own bindings.

I personally became interested in OH because I want to avoid a lock-in into one closed system.
(especially one that is impossible to replace 10 years later when hardware breaks down, and the original system no longer exists. )

Yes, that would be a better idea, as you are correct about some topics working on multiple platform.


you are welcome

Out of curiosity, which package did you select when you first installed OH? I wouldn’t expect any persistence to be installed or configured for Expert, Minimial, or Standard. But for Simple or Demo I would have expected one of them to be installed and configured.

The big challenge is that the embedded Persistence options have significant limitations (MapDB can only store the most recent value, rrd4j can only store Number values) which makes them unsuitable as a default. All the rest require the installation and configuration of some other program that runs outside of OH.

That is one of the big problems in this space. Home automation in general is far more difficult than almost any newbie expects. It’s not just OH, though there are clearly many areas where OH needs to improve on the usability front. But there is only so much that can be done.

A known gap in OH. It’s a harder problem than a lot of users realize. But it is know and I believe there is some work underway to address it. For now the best suggestion is to use the CalDav binding for dynamic scheduling. For scheduling based on the sun use the Astro binding and Rules. For static scheduling (i.e. hard coded shcedules) use Rules with Time cron triggers.

The philosophy is that Rules are supposed to handle scenes, and there are several approaches. When the Experimental Next Gen Rules Engine matures it will provide even easier ways to set up scenes through Rules. See A simple scene management: finally a good use of scripts for a good approach to scenes.

These things are being worked. And one thing newbies do not have insight into is how far OH has come in a relatively short period of time. Man years of effort has been spent to get OH to this point and man years more of effort will be required to get OH where it is going. The usability improvements already made to OH from when I started using it in 1.6 to now are breathtaking.

I have no idea what I installed. That was 4 weeks ago and I guessed at what might be the best for me. I know it took me a lot of tries because I tried it when there was a problem with the install. I installed off the openhabian download but no clue what I ended up with or how I managed to finally get past the error. I think I installed it, then did some manual stuff I found searching Google and then installed it again or maybe it started working then and the install never finished. My setup is rather simple, maybe I should just back it up and reinstall everything from scratch.

It seems like InfluxDB would be a decent default choice for persistence, but I’ve no actual Idea why I thought that. I installed it but never got the binding to connect. I’m sure I did something wrong and since it was mostly an exercise I set it aside to try another day.

I hope you don’t feel like I’m complaining. I just know that after I’ve been working on a project for awhile, I sometimes lose sight of what my users see and forget what it’s like to install it for the first time.

And I’m certainly not complaining about lack of features. Or lack of development resources. I do wish the “language” that was used was a bit more structured programming language than script language, but I think that’s a common choice in projects for average people. For those of you old enough to remember, kind of like the difference between scripts in Procomm and Telix, assuming I spelled Telix correctly.


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You might look at the JSR223 Rules which will let you program in Jython, JavaScript, or Groovy. The Next Gen Rules Engine will also use these languages but it is still a bit experimental and lacks documentation. Eventually the current Rules DSL will be ported to the NGRE and the old Rules Engine deprecated (before everyone panics, Kai stated that there will be a way to port your current Rules into the NGRE before that happens, you won’t have to rewrite all your Rules).