Openhabian changes my desktop

  • Platform information:
    • Raspberry Pi 4 - 4GB
    • Bookworm
    • OpenJS version 17
    • openHAB version: 4.0.4
  • Issue of the topic: Fresh installation of OpenHAB
  • Please post configurations (if applicable):
    • Openhabian is destroying my desktop setup on my Raspberry Pi

Hi Community

I’m a long user and lover of OpenHAB which i utilizes together with several other systems to control my home (light, power/heat/vindows and blinds/warnings ect.

Now I know that my setup/installation choice is somewhat different from the standard way but I really do like to utilize a standard Raspbian OS with a desktop installed and a RealVNC enables which helps me logg into the RPI remotely no matter where I am.

I’m in the process of transferring my OpenHAB installation from a Raspberry pi 3B to a Raspberry Pi 4B - 4GB and in that process i have tried to utilize Openhabian but… It destroys my Desktop setup every time… I dont know the specifiks about whats going on behind the scene when i’m installing openhabian but every time i try to use Openhabian is changes my desktop han breaks links (i.e. after installation of openhabian i cannot open a shell) and my desktop looks very different.

It is extreemly annoying and I do not understand why the Openhabian needs to change my desktop??? I really dont understand why it it nessesary to change a desktop enviroment in order to install OpenHAB it seems completely unnesserary to me. the are guidance for people to install OpenHAB on Linux machines… Does Openhab change their desktop cenfiguration? I hope not because that must be very annoying to them i guess…

Currently I have made my own script to install Openhab without Openhabian in order to be relieved from this change of desktop. However I’m all setup except Frontail…

Can somebody please tell me Why Openhabian needs to change my desktop configuration?
Can someby tell me how i Install Frontail without using Openhabian (i.e. via Shell commands)

Thanks for helping me out


If you had read the docs you would have known that openHABian is for headless machines, i.e. server with no desktop. You’re using it for a purpose it was not built for and it even says so in its docs.
So don’t blame it for ‘destroying’ your desktop.
openHAB is designed to run 24/7 and there’s absolutely no need for having a desktop on a smart home server. It’s actually pretty counterproductive to run it like that, it’s adding risk to availability of your whole smarthome.
That’s even more so true for a Raspi which is so cheap that you can easily setup another one or do the stuff you want to do on your real (PC) desktop.
I suggest you drop the idea of having a desktop. You don’t need it anyway.

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Thanks for the quick reply
I have actually read the documentation several times and yes I claims the openhabian I mainly for headless but not stating that it is only meant for headless installation (not as far as I read it) but now I know.

I disagree with you on the part that it is less safe to run a desktop setup.
In my current setup, which has been running for years I have had the current setup with a desktop.

It gives me the opportunity to utilize RealVNC to log into my Rpi remotely no matter where I am without me having to open ports to I.e. SSH
with the desktop I can also easily see how loaded the CPU are and temperature, have several shells open at the same time and much more.

Should I run it headless then I would have to use SSH and open up a port I my router I order to access the Rpi (talk about security risk right there)…

As mentioned, openHABian is intended to be a turn-key installation and a desktop is not a part of that.

It’s not necessary to install openHAB. But you are not installing openHAB. You are installing openHABian with isn’t just openHAB. It’s a whole suite of OS customizations and third party software installed and preconfigured to work with openHAB.

If you just want openHAB and don’t want all that OS and third party stuff, you need to follow the plain Linux installation instructions, not openHABian.


I’m not sure what kind of script you need to create. Installation is: installing Java 17 (a one time action), adding the repo (a one time action), and installing using sudo apt install openhab. It’s a Java application.

Because it’s a whole turn-key OS configuration, not just a single application. And openHABian is designed to be headless.

The more you have running, the more risk there is that something will go wrong. That’s always true. Just because you’ve never experienced problems and just because the risk is still low, running X and a window manager opens a larger surface for something to go wrong.

RAM is also the major limiting factor on RPi 3s. The more you are running, the less RAM there is for OH.

Tailscale can give you ssh access remotely without needing to open ports. I believe openhabian-config even supports installing and configuring Tailscale, not that’s it’s hard to do yourself. Once installed it’s one command to get it up and running.

Do not open ports to the Internet.

There are command line tools for this.

Also possible in lots of different ways on headless machines, though usually you’d do that setup on the remote client.
At the end of the day, I don’t think anyone is saying here that setting this machine up how ever works best for you is wrong. But openHABian is not going to be the way to do it. You’ll have to set it up how you want it yourself.

Instructions can be found on Frontail’s repo. GitHub - mthenw/frontail: 📝 streaming logs to the browser. Sponsored by

And by the way… why in the world does openhabian at all mess with desktop settings if it is meant to be used i a headless setup?

why would any openhab setting mess/change/alter a desktop.

It is a service centeret around communicating over the ethernet and serial ports. where does the desktop come into play in OpenHab?

Thanks Rich Koshak

your resonce gives meaning… I will look into your links…
future wish for openhabian is to have more settings so it’s more controlable and not just altering things without letting user know…

I really like the idea of Openhabian but the change of desktop settings is a real killer for me and I really haven’t comprehended why it in any way needs to mess arout with a desktop setting.

It doesn’t. But openHABian is a preconfigured OS environment. It’s not just openHAB. It’s entire reason for being is to configure the OS and a number of third party tools to work together. The audience for openHABian are those who are less adept on using and configuring Linux. It helps them get up to a working state fast and it helps us support them as we know exactly what the OS configuration is.

Tl;dr, openHAB != openHABian. openHAB is the application. openHABian is the whole OS config. So it is well within it’s area of responsibility to adjust the desktop settings.

We don’t have the man power to maintain something like that and it kind of goes against the purpose of openHABian. openHABian exists to give users a normalized OS and software config. Adding too many options makes it harder for end users to install and configure, harder for us to support, and harder for the maintainers to keep up.

openHABian is designed to be the whole OS config and it’s designed to be a headless config. That’s what it’s there for. It’s why it exists. If you want something different, you should not use openHABian.

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This is an OSS effort. So then go ahead, write a script that takes care of all of this on every possible installation variant, and contribute it as a PR to openHABian.

My future wish for openHABian is a lot smaller:
it is that users read the docs, understand the concepts and respect the use case limitations that this software comes with (free of charge to them although full of manyears’ work) rather than ignoring the documented basics, then even proceeding to complain about stuff that doesn’t work the way they want it although it was never supposed to work like that and they would have known if they had respected the docs I wrote for them.


Ok Rich and Markus
Fair points and I did not wish to upset you that was not my intent. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love the OpenHAB system and I know youre putting a lot of effort in the design and coding and it for free… so thanks for all the effort and responding to my questions.

I now understand that the statement
openHABian is a self-configuring Linux system setup to meet the needs of every openHAB user. is not for me and I will continue to work on my own solution to the best of my abilities.

Should anyone whish to receive my script, let me know I’ll be happy to share.

Again thanks for all your help and effort making OpenHab a fully fledged Home Automation Bus system that beats the competition by miles.

Have a nice weekend



Do you have screenshots that show the differences ?

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Yes I’ll be happy to provide the screen shot and steps to reproduce, I will get beck to with this info on monday

Hi Wolfgang

As promised hereby the steps to reproduce including pictures

  1. Install Raspberry Pi 32 bit OS (Bookworm) including Desktop via Raspberry Pi Imager V1.7.5
  2. Boot Raspberry Pi and update machine (sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y)
  3. Reboot pi and open a shell and run sudo raspi-config
  4. Go to 6. Advanced Options → A6 Wayland Settings → Choose W1 X11 desktop
  5. Exit and reboot

Now the Raspberry Pi desktop looks like a standard Bookworm Desktop using X11 Desktop (everything is fine until now)

Now for the installation and setup of Openhabian

As per Opehab dcs procedure (openHABian | openHAB):

  1. Open a shell and as per documentation run:
  2. sudo bash
  3. apt-get update
  4. apt-get install git
  5. git clone -b openHAB GitHub - openhab/openhabian: openHABian - empowering the smart home, for Raspberry Pi and Debian systems /opt/openhabian
  6. ln -s /opt/openhabian/ /usr/local/bin/openhabian-config
  7. cp /opt/openhabian/build-image/openhabian.conf /etc/openhabian.conf
  8. openhabian-config unattended

Again everythins seems OK and machine is beeing rebooted to make sure all things are loaded correctly (maybe unnessary step)…

As per Openhab doc prosedure next setp is to Open Shell and run
sudo openhabian-config unattended

as you can see it executes the Openhabian-config script and actually de-installs (removes) several programs

And to my great supprise it actually de-installs (in danish “afinstallere”) both Xsettings and Wayland??? and many other programs and apps for that matter…

Now why in the world would is that nessesary?
I know i have been told that Openhabian is for headless operation but the script really means headless because it actually tries to remove the Desktop… I just dont understand why that is a nessesary step?

OK so after a reboot my login screen looks like this (before i ran the openhabian-config script I have automatically login so again something Openhabian messed with i guess):

And my Desktop looks like this:

I hope these steps to reproduce and screenshots helps to better understand what i mean by the Openahabian changes/destroys my desktop


That‘s because the unattendend mode is for headless installations which do not use a desktop environment !

Hi hmerk

So you are saying that I should use:
sudo openhabian-config

without any suffix after?

or is there another suffix to be utilized when you don’t want the openhabian to uninstall the desktop platform?


This will open the menu where you can select what you want.

Thanks hmerk :slight_smile:

I have been struggelign for days…
the sudo Openahbian-config works for me…

I puzzled to why the documentation mentions the unattended “way” to to it first and then the menu way as I admit i fell into that loop hole and thus this hole topic would not have been started…

And yes mstormi is right, one needs to read the full documentation, however we also all know tha we are all humans and thus tries to skip to the important part quickly… My point beeing a documentation oftens starts with the basic and then digs deepter into the more advanced. So a slight request from here is to removve the word “unattended” in the section of other Linus systems as this is the first place in the documentation where the reader reads the 7 commmands that installs and runs Openhabian.

None the less I’m much wiser now and i thanks eveeryone for helping out.

I hope that one day I learn why it is nessesary to uninstall the Desktop of a system in order to have OpenHAB running (as in Sudo Openhabian-config unattended) but thats for another day I guess.

Again I cant stress enough how good OpenHAB is, I have tried Home Assistant and it it not as stable and good as OpenHAB so as long as OpenHAB exsists in its current form I’ll be hanging around :slight_smile:

Thanks all

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I don’t believe Openhabian removes the desktop on purpose. But it does do a number of updates to users/roles/services/permissions and does install a number of packages. To my knowledge, it does a call to remove unused packages.
Some of that may mess with some elements of the desktop inadvertently.
As indicated, this was never the intended use. And to find out, someone needs to make the effort to analyze where exactly it goes wrong, and then decide if it is worth fixing.

90%+ of openHABian users burn the openHABian image to an SD card and the OS and required software gets installed and configured on the first boot. It is a relatively small minority of users who install and use openHABian any other way.

But I think what’s being said there is pretty important and relevant to this thread.

Please note that the unattended install is tailored to work for Raspberries. We cannot test HW/OS combos beyond RPis upfront so there is no promise for this work. Note that although the core parts of openHABian were reported to work on Ubuntu, it is not supported and untested.

That’s a pretty important warning I think and removing it would not be helpful.

I could see adding a sentence to that to indicate that if you are looking to configure a non-standard openHABian OS (e.g. one with a desktop, running on an SDD/HDD, etc.) to use the interactive install instead of unattended.

Again, it’s not. openHAB can run alongside almost anything. It is vitally important in discussions like these to understand that openHAB is not openHABian and use the correct term.

As for why openHABian removes or modifies the desktop in unattended mode? Well it’s written for and only tested on headless RPis. Either a deliberate choice was made to ensure headlessness or, as @Mherwege indicates, it might just be something inadvertant.

It doesn’t because it isn’t there.
But reading about your setup, I (only now) got that it’s really odd what you did:
You used unattended mode (ok in principle) … but you installed on RPi and didn’t use the image.
Duh. I never would have thought of anyone doing that as it’s way easier to use the image which is exactly built for that purpose.
So the docs (and to be frank, my support) don’t cover your setup mode. A RPi is no “other” Linux system, it’s the main one so you looked for install docs in the wrong place. Which in turn are fine for what they’re intended for (x86 linuxes).
And frankly I still don’t see any reason for attempting what you did.
You don’t need a desktop on your smart home server, nor should you be running one there.

As I was curious about the reason I had a look into the scripts but I was not able to find the reason. In case you have a debug log it might be possible to identify the root cause.