What's the best platform?

I’m working on learning OpenHab2 for a future new home build. When I build my home I want to use OpenHab2 to control everything (lights, audio, media, security, garage, etc). I’d prefer to learn on the same platform as I should use for my final build for the new home. I’m going back-and-forth between Ubuntu and Windows. I feel like Windows may be easier to use but may limit me in the long run when I implement OH2 into my house. I’m also wondering if there is more help in the community if I’m on something like Ubuntu.

Are there any limitations to one platform or another? Which platform would you recommend?

There are several threads about this as this is perhaps one of the most asked questions.

If you don’t have any strong bias towards Windows, choose UNIX as that’s what OH is being developed on and used by most people, so there’s more users available to potentially help you with your setup or in fixing problems in the future.

For the same reason, if you haven’t settled on a hardware yet, go for a Pi3 and start by using openHABian.

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Nothing to add here, except indeed openHABian is a perfect place to learn from.
If for some reason you want to change hardware and/or platform, you can do so easily. No migration hurdles!

Home automation appears to be very Linux orientated, and you will find that, whilst some configuration is more complex if you’re a Windows person, things will likely work better on Linux once it’s set up.

I ran into some issues with Windows - updating OH was very complex, and I struggled to get things like the Network binding working with arping, and the recently released Bluetooth binding has severe limitations on Windows.

I am a Windows guy through and through generally, but I am using Ubuntu Server (command line only!) and the openHABian tool to do the installation and initial configuration. This kept me away from the Linux command line as much as possible, and easily set up shares so that I can access the key bits I need to from a Windows computer, using tools I already know and like, such as Notepad++ :slight_smile:

For first timers in openHAB, I strongly recommend using some kind of code editor, which helps prevent simple syntax errors - I find the VisualStudio Code Extension extremely helpful! (but that’s not platform relevant, I know… :zipper_mouth_face:)

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Good point :slight_smile: Using a syntax-checking code editor is definitely something for a newbie!

I started my OH journey before that was available, so I’ve gone past the initial learning phase!

You might also take into account if you want to have a server of some kind, providing some other function. For example a CCTV or network storage system. The same box could host OpenHAB whatever the operating system.

Or if looking for resilience to power failure, and old laptop is convenient.

I think the main points to take away from these and posts you will find on similar threads are:

  • don’t stress too much on the platform, it is more important to just get started learning the platform
  • it is not difficult to migrate OH if you decide later you made a bad decision for you
  • the majority of users run on Linux so you will find a wider community of people able to help if you choose Ubuntu or Raspbian (if running on a RPi)
  • you don’t have to be on a Raspberry Pi to use openHABian so you can install Ubunutu and download and execute openhabian-config to install and configure OH and related services (samba, frontail, etc) and openHABian is highly highly recommended if you are not familiar with Linux or would rather focus primarily on learning OH and not dealing with setup and configuration of it.

So I say get a RPi3 or install Ubuntu on one of your existing machines (or in a VM on one of your existing machines), use openHABian to install and configure OH, and start learning. Good luck!

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Thank you all for the replies!

One more thing throw in to the decision. I plan to run a robust server to run Blue Iris on Windows 10. I also want Blue Iris to work with and communicate with Openhab. Does that change anyone’s opinion? Am I best off to just run OH on that same computer as Blue Iris? Or would I be better off to run a dedicated computer for OH?

No it does not change opinions. Get a dedicated box to run openHABian.

I run Blue Iris on Windows 10 on with just an i7-2600, 8gb RAM with 20 4MP cameras. All motion captures have an image snapshot automatically uploaded to Google Photos (free unlimited storage if u use the recommended resolution). My peak CPU Usage is only ~40% becuase I use direct to disk. When I had it setup to reencode, it was a constant 100% CPU usage even with QuickSync hardware accelleration.
For Storage videos are saved onto a 5TB drive. The machine is located in the attic LOL, and CPU is water-cooled (still yet to hit 60deg temp!!). In BlueIris, there’s this thing called New and Storage videos. New videos are saved onto a 256gb SSD.

I was running openHAB with it before but I now have openHab on a RPI3. I wanted OH and my BI separately. My OH runs under a custom UPC so it can last a day even without mains power. Can’t do that if I had windows on a PC. Same concept with my Alarm system, it runs on a small orangePI with it’s own UPS.

Critical stuff, you want them running on a dedicated hardware. My openHab controls some rules for my alarm/security system. So they (alarm, OH, router) must all run for at least a day even without power from mains. You can’t do that with a PC unless you have thousands of $$ to spare.

If you need assistance with Blue Iris, just start another thread. I’ve been running BI for more than 5 years now, and Ken (the dev) is amazing to work with.

BlueIris is easy to integrate with OH, it has its own REST API and events you can hook up with to OH.

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Do you use an accupack which can be charged and discharged at the same time?

No, I’m not. I’m using a motorcycle battery as the power backup. With a relay, I’m detecting power from mains. When mains is active, battery is charging and device is using power from mains. When power from mains is cut off, circuit is now open and power supply to the device switches from mains to battery. The ‘switcher’ is just a circuit with an attiny85, which still an overkill. With a large capacitor, the device won’t even feel the switch, so it continues running without any hiccups. So short, I’m not charging and discharging at the same time, I’m switching between the two. I detect battery voltage (same attiny85) to stop/open the charging circuit.

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One additional criteria on a server running 24/7 should be the power consumption. This is an advantage for small systems like the RPi3. It is running fanless and consumes about 5W. CPU power is sufficient, mine is running between 4% and 15% CPU load, average maybe 7%.


Agreed on RPi, dedicated device, low power, not Windows :grinning:

Regarding battery backup, just a USB power bank will do the job


Of course,… you would need battery backup for your switch or wireless AP etc too!

I built a beefy server and installed VMware ESXi hypervisor on it. I then built a VM for my Openhab and installed Ubuntu Server LTS. I then installed OpenHABain on there and configured it accordingly. I like the Ubuntu server, because it’s extremely light weight, way more powerful then a Pi and let’s be honest you really don’t need a GUI. I also have other VMs for my Plex Server (also Ubuntu Server LTS), lab domain controller, a few test machines and my IIS server. Everything works great and not even close to maxing it out. Plus I only need to worry about one device and I can control everything with my desktop. I re-wired my whole house and ran Ethernet and coaxial in every room all coming down to my data closet where I have a patch panel, UPS, modem, amplifier for my Coax and my server.

Good job on the VM. I do have a rack server at home but opted to run OH on the pi. The thing with VMs is that if the host device goes down, everything in it will.

That is true, but the same thing can be said for any device. By putting it on a separate device doesn’t make it any less prone to going down, it’s just more hardware you have to worry about. I thought about a Pi, but only 1GB RAM, maybe fine when you start out. Sooner or later it’s going to hit it’s ceiling. I didn’t build the server for OH, but I have it and it gives you so many advantages. Why not use it. I can monitor it’s performance in real time and I can increase it’s resources if I need to or if I allotted to much I can decrease it. If you are just starting out, it gives you the flexibility to try out different flavors i.e. Window, Linux or even Mac if that’s your thing. The BIGGEST advantage in my opinion is the ability to take snapshots. It gives you the freedom to try things out and if you royally mess something up, you just revert back to a snapshot. After every binding or major change I take a snapshot, this way I never have to start over from scratch. Granted I am an engineer and I already had the hardware. Someone just starting out and doesn’t want to spend a grand on a server. The Pi is the way to go, under $100 and your up and running. Hell if your handy with a soldering iron you probably can increase the RAM to 2 or 3 GB without straining the PSU and if you screw it up, it’s only $35. Hell for a few dollars more you can go with a ODROID-C2 board. It has 2 GHz quad core processor, 2GB of ddr3 memory and Gigabit Ethernet. Sorry for being a little long winded, but I really love tech. There are so many options you can go with, I guess it boils down to what the individual needs or wants are.

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“Dedicated” device means a lot to me especially since I have rules in OH to control my alarm systems, turn off appliances, and even my gas stoves in the kitchen LOL. My rPi can run for days on a DIY backup (motorcycle) battery, something close to impossible on a beefy server, unless one has $$$$$$$$$$$$ to spend.

My rpi gets a snapshot nightly. dd works wonders for the entire card. My configs also gets hourly backup to a private git


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