Using Home Assistant Yellow to run ... OpenHab 4!

I was just curious whether the Home Assistant Yellow would be able to run Openhab (or Openhabian, to be more precise)…

What is Yellow?

  • A ready to go box with Home Assistant preloaded (kind of, it seems to download or upgrade it when first started)
  • Embedded with a Raspberry Pi 4 Compute Module with 2 GB RAM en 16 GB eMMC disk (no SD card). A Compute Module is a Raspberry Pi for embedded use. You can choose many different configurations, more RAM, more eMMC disk, with or without WIFI. It has no video output for instance.
  • A Zigbee / Thread compatible extension already on board, this is the SiLabs MGM210P (MGM210PA32JIA2) Multiprotocol Wireless Module
  • Price around €215,- That’s a lot, but I think it offers a lot more than a standard Pi with some kind of USB dongle for Zwave of Zigbee

Why would this be interesting for this community?

  • Using Home Assistant with this board is very easy. Just plug in power and a network cable, and there you go. If we could get this working for OH, than OH would also be easier to use and install.
  • The eMMC disk is built in and should be more realiable than a SD card. It can tell what its state is (at first boot up, disk wear out is 10%, after a few weeks usage it is still at 10%).
  • I think Thread is a future promising standard (but that is a whole new discussion), if it would be supported by hardware and standard OH software, that would be really useful for novice users.

Ok, and what was the result?

Well, I installed OpenHab using Openhabian, and … it worked the first time :grinning: :+1:

  • It booted, webinterface came up, there were no strange things in first-boot.log, and nothing in openhab.log, except for a startup error with openhab-cli (which probably has nothing to do with Yellow):

Failed to load native osinfo: Linux/arm
java.lang.UnsatisfiedLinkError: /var/lib/openhab/tmp/ /var/lib/openhab/tmp/ cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

  • It reported a Raspberry Pi CM4 (Compute Module), as I expected.
  • The Aeotec Z-Stick Gen 5 worked (even without USB-hub on like on a regular RPi4, due to the USB-bug). Zwave sensors worked like a charm.
  • Openhab did see the Zigbee module, but it did not work :face_with_head_bandage:. It stays in in the initializing state. See this separate thread for that. In short, with trace on, I got several debug message, of which this one is the most suspicious:

ZigBeeDiscoveryService] : Component can not be activated since it is in state disabled

[EDIT: I later solved this, Zigbee is working now! See the thread above. So there is a fully working system now, except for Thread which is not possible in OH]

How did I do this?

Well, basically, RTFM (option2), but in short:

  • Remove Power, open case, move the one and only jumper on the board from UART to USB.
  • Connect an USB-C cable to your Windows, Linux or Mac laptop.
  • Press and hold the USB-C Recvry button, than connect power. After a few seconds, release the button. Only the red LED will burn.
  • On your laptop install rpiboot (I had to compile it on Linux, should be easier on Mac and Windows)
  • run rpiboot and let it run. Now your Yellow works as a kind of USB-stick.
  • You get a new device attached to your laptop (on Linux, check using sudo fdisk -l).
  • Run Raspberry Pi imager or whatever tool you like to format SD cards, using the openhabian image.
  • Let it run for a quarter or so
  • When finished, remove power
  • Move jumper back to UART
  • Connect the Yellow to the network cable and power, and … it starts installing.
  • Wait for 30 minutes are so, and then … there you go at http://openhabian.local:8080 :sunglasses:

What do you think ? Would this Yellow thing be useful or interesting to you? Please let me know!


Cool! :slight_smile: Maybe they can apply for the:


It seems to me that it’s actually more effort to flash OH onto the HA Yellow than to put it on a typical Raspberry Pi with an SD card. After that it’s the same setup process. Am I missing something?

Keep in mind that OH may not actually need a Thread radio. Matter is built around having multiple “border routers” in a WiFi/Thread mesh, rather than a single controller (as with Zigbee/Z-Wave), so that there isn’t a single point of failure. OH just has to be able to connect to the Matter network via WiFi, and can then communicate with Thread devices via border routers with Thread radios (e.g. an Echo or Nest Hub).

For me, the sticking point is that the “plug in and go” selling feature is lost as soon as you replace HA with OH. It stops being a consumer-friendly appliance for novices and reverts to being a hobby computer for enthusiasts. If that’s the case, I think I’d prefer to spend my money on an RPi5 with an m.2 hat.

That being said, I’m glad to know that this is an option. Thanks for sharing!


I agree on that, but ideally (after some general adoptions to the Yellow), there would be a smart option to start Openhab without the SD card or complex procedure I went through at all.

Good point, did not think about that yet!

Yes, that is an interesting feature of Raspberry Pi 5. But are there any small and cheap (e.g. 30 €) m.2 SSD drives around? Do they exist ?

I’m not sure what you mean by this. Nabu Casu likely wouldn’t be interested in providing an easy way to swap out HA for OH, so the method you used is the only one I can imagine working.

Yep, just look on Amazon for 2230 (30mm) and 2242 (42mm) m.2 SSDs. Alternatively, a USB enclosure would be fine as well (and probably cheaper). We don’t really need the speed of the PCIe bus for openHAB’s purposes.

I’m actually perfectly happy with an SD card. I’ve only had one card fail on me, and that was almost five years ago (before I put my RPi on a UPS).

A prebuilt, preinstalled platform would be a good thing.
HA Yellow is half of that.

If someone wants to start a business, buying a prebuilt hardware platform, installing and doing an initial startup of Openhabian, and, reselling…

I think, at best, we can guess that would be a hobby business.

@rpwong is correct. HA Yellow is beholden to the folks that run a HA business. They have a vested interest to thwart any such 3rd party business.

A Hobby business would be helpful for the community.

You are totally true, if you look at the “HA Yellow” as a/the concrete device built for and preloaded with HA as a basis for an OH installation. But I would see this thread more general. HA provided evidence that it is quite easy to design and produce a simple hardware that can be preloaded with an otherwise just as a manual on a separate hardware installable open source software solution. Using the RPi CM-Module on a board with a wireless IoT network controller (which one they choose does not matter) and putting it in a simple case, was a quite clever move in my eyes to break the barrier betwen the “nerd version” and the “consumer version” of something you can put in the shelf in your store or sell online to broarden the user base.

@tonus cool thanks for posting, good to know it is easy for people that already own the hardware to migrate over to openHAB.

No it was completely STUPID and I posted this on their forum at the time they released it. The board is crippled to only usb2 and I said at the time, that by the time the chips shipped (covid chip shortage era) far better products would be on the market, and they are here now and far better choices.

  1. Pi5 with the nvme hat if you want it.
  2. Odroid M1 USD$90 (do not get the m1s version until more OS images are released which is just a matter of time, then this $50 lite version is fantastic value.) The M1 sas USB 2 and 3 as well as a NVME slot all on board. Supports emmc as well that can be replaced if it gets damaged.
  3. Odroid n2+ has more CPU but no nvme slot. They sold this as HA blue and this is the hardware I use.

You have to consider the available spare parts and in the above 3 cases, they will be around for at least the next 10 years before you need to hunt a second hand replacement.

I suspect that they will not continue on with the Yellow now that they have the newer board Green? already released. As soon as stock gets sold out of warehouses buyer beware as better hardware is available at lower costs. Their marketing team will say they are still a current product, but this will be to move the old stock on without making a loss on the pricing. When you make custom stuff you have to buy in bulk and this means they will be stuck with units they now have to move. I have been there and done this exact thing before.

Beware of vendor lock in (HA green) and also the ability to get spare parts. Also consider resale value, a normal pi can be sold and you get your money back at the moment.

It is not easy unless you have a skilled hardware designer on your team with enough experience to pull it off, so hats off to them (pun intended) if it all went smoothly. I have been involved in such a team in the past and you usually get hit with a few prototypes that have issues and a ton of testing needing to be done with addon devices and a lot more that is not seen by end users… In this case its just an advanced hat and the software just sees a raspberry pi. The issue is that even if a rasberry pi 5 6 or 7 CM comes out, you still will be crippled back to only usb2. When you compare the cost of buying a full new piece of hardware using all more modern components you will be far better off.

If you already own one, then great use it, but beware about buying one if you do not already have it as the buyers remorse will strike when you compare to other hardware that is available.


It is always easy to criticise a common hardware and demand for more (especially if you ignore time to marked, acceptabe costs, …). Yes, a i9 with 64GB of RAM a fat GPU, … sounds even better than a RPi 5. But what are we talking about here? We are talking about a system for beginners, for counsumers who dare to start with a screwdriver and a downloaded image, about people with limited needs (to start with). Would they question the hardware components hidden in a HUE bridge, a Homematic CCU? Do competitors offer USB3? What is USB3 really needed for in such limited hardware as all the competitors offer?

And talking about “spare parts”: Are there spare parts at all for a Homematic CCU, … For how long do competitors offer a product that already has a successor? And ebay is full of used comparable devices. A Homematic CCU3 keeps its value very well.

And I never talked about buying a HA yellow, I just wrote about having a (to be designed) easy box for beginners!

There was one already, without asking for permission to use logo and name

And testing of hardware often require low level quirks in linux, hardware descriptor, its drivers or kernel modules in order to get everything boot and work. Doing this for carrier board of existing compute module (cm2, cm4) is not trivial.
Just a basic fact that a lot of raspberry clones can’t handle properly hats designed for origin hardware proves that it is not straight task.

The 10 year availability, as far I remember, was promised by some manufacturers for some hardware. Many of hardware designs have shorter time frame.
If I’m not mistaken RPi folks still did not declare their policy in this regard. Their message back in 2022 was, that they “prioritize commercial and industrial customers”. However, how they do it, is unclear to outside.
On opposite side we have manufacturers such as NXP which make such information available online. This is a base for compute module designers (seco, kontron and many, many other) as well as carrier board creators to make their own product lifecycle decisions.

We have one in Raspberry pi or odroid devices, you can buy them setup ready to go, all that’s needed is an image flashed and a few steps done. Anyone who can not handle that is soon going to fail at home automation and turn the box off and push it aside.

If anyone wants to do it, then great by all means sell a ready made box, but may I suggest selling the setup of the image and tech support to get going and possibly x hours of training as part of the bundle. If u sell hardware that can be purchased else where people will attack you for profiteering, so marketing it as training and support would be a smarter way IMHO. We do have people that do this already @MDAR sells velbus hardware setup on devices with openhab.

I just do not want a new comer to buy hardware they will soon regret in the case of yellow and my. Replies are not aimed at you if I hit the reply button or quoted parts of your messages.

A Raspberry pi is cheap, widely avaibale, can be purchased in already setup bundles. When you upgrade you can use the hardware for other projects like octoprint instead of land fill and you can sell it easily to someone else. If it breaks you can go out and buy another the exact same even in five or ten years time.

The home assistant yellow is not common and is probably already out of production as they have moved to the green model and will be trying to get rid of old stock at this point
. It’s a matter of looking at your choices in the market and buying what is best for your needs and I feel I have to post so a beginner does not see it as a smart first move to buy one at this point in time. If they were to drop the price to move them along and your happy with no usb3 then that is different if the pricing makes sense against a new pi5 which performs much better and has usb3 and nvme ability.

Thanks for the mention @matt1

Just for 100% transparency, in case anyone scans that paragraph and misinterprets the meaning.

Yes, we do “re-sell” a fully assembled Odroid C4, in a nice metal case with a sturdy Din rail clip, preloaded with

  • DietPi OS
  • Velbus-tcp (free open source USB <> TCP gateway)
  • Tiger-VNC scrapping server

With the following software installed vis the DietPi menu

  • openHAB V4
  • NodeRed V3
  • Samba server
  • OpenSSH
  • Chromium browser (which loads with customers choice of UI, for use with a monitor or touchscreen.)

The price we sell this for, is only slightly more than it cost us, because we only sell them as part of a complete hardware order.

Oddly, we do offer basic Velbus themed training for openHAB, but it’s only the colleges we are starting to work with that are taking us up on that.
End customers seem to survive with an occasional email / phone call for support.

I think this is because we include a Items template file that is enough to get them up and running.

You mean like it always happens with the stuff from other market players that offer plug and play devices like Homey, Samsung, Sonoff, Apple, Homee, Homematic, Amazon, …

And they do not offer consulting, training, …, too (not saying that this is not a valid business model).