OpenHAB: home automation server for Raspberry Pi3, macOS, Windows

OpenHAB is an open source home server (and free) supported by a very large community. In this article, we will discover how to install it very simply on a Windows, Mac OS X or Raspberry Pi 3 (or on previous versions).

Introducing the openHAB home automation server

OpenHAB is a very open domotic server with a very large and very active community that has developed an impressive number of addons (link to the addons page) to connect and control almost everything in domotics (z-wave module, Bluetooth …, Internet service Twitter, Dropbox …). To get an idea, go to the wiki.

In the universe of openHAB everything is not necessarily pink however. First of all, even if it is a proven solution (the first version dates from February 2011), there is still no solution to build its home automation panel and configure its devices. OpenHAB is still reserved for an informed public who is not afraid to get their hands in the code and have serious technical knowledge (because yes it will be necessary to code all oneself). This should change with version 2.0 which is under development and of which here is a small video of presentation (in English).

Installing OpenHab

Installation is very simple. There is no installer, you will just have to download and unpack 2 ZIP archives in a dedicated directory. Before you begin, your computer must be running version 1.7 of the Java runtime (http://java.com/)

Then go to the openHAB site on the Download tab (link to the openHAB download page).

Installation on Linux, macOS X or Raspberry Pi

The best way is to use the Terminal to install on these machines. For Mac OS X you can do everything from the Finder by downloading the ZIPs before unpacking them and moving them to the /opt/openhab  directory. To make the hidden folders visible in the Finder, you must first run this command in the Terminal

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES

Then you must restart the Finder to take account of the change

killall Finder

If you want to hide the hidden folders again, execute the 1st command by setting NO at the end.

Let’s go back to a command line installation. First, we will create a new directory

sudo mkdir /opt/openhab

Then go to this directory

cd /opt/openhab

Go to the website of openHAB then click on the download button, then “copy the address of the link”. This will give you the link to the latest version.

In the terminal, enter the following command by replacing the link address with your.

sudo wget https://bintray.com/artifact/download/openhab/bin/distribution-1.8.2-runtime.zip

Once the download is complete, we will decompress the zip.

sudo unzip distribution-1.8.2-runtime.zip

We can now delete the zip

sudo rm distribution-1.8.2-runtime.zip

Let’s go into the addons directory

cd addons

Now, download the addons. First go get the download link.

sudo wget https://bintray.com/artifact/download/openhab/bin/distribution-1.8.2-addons.zip

Then

sudo unzip distribution-1.8.2-addons.zip

Finally

sudo rm distribution-1.8.2-addons.zip

Performance on a Raspberry Pi 3

I have only one Raspberry Pi 3 at my disposal to do the tests, I can not advance for the previous generations. OpenHAB adapts very well the power available on the Raspberry Pi 3. On the other hand I noticed a very slow slowdown in case of error in the script. I do not know the origin but I imagine that openHAB constantly adds in the log the errors of executions which slow down very strongly the Pi.

Installation on Windows

The installation is the same as for Linux, MAC OX. First create a directory on c:\openhab  and unpack all files in it.

Installing the Demo Server

To get to know openHAB, you can also install a demo server. To do this, just download the ZIP and unzip it to the installation directory.

Start the openHAB home automation server

Now that everything is ready we will be able to start our home automation server.

Go to the directory

cd /opt/openhab

Then enter the following command

sudo ./start.sh

On Windows, run the start.bat script

Now open a new tab in your web browser and enter the following address

http://localhost:8080/openhab.app?sitemap=demo

If your installation is correct you should have this page that points to the demo “Demo House”.

openhab demo

In case of a problem you will have this error message: HTTP Error 500. This is quite normal since at the first installation, there is still no home automation server configured.

openhab http error 500To stop the server, just enter the exit command in the Terminal and confirm with y.

OpenHAB-Designer

OpenHAB-Designer is a programming environment that simplifies (a little) life to develop your home automation server. It is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (32 or 64 bits). For cons, there is no version for Raspberry Pi which is a little shame.

After downloading and unzipping the ZIP, launch the application.

Click on the yellow icon in the form of an open folder and then specify the directory path “configurations”.

You can now use the Designer to develop your home automation server.

Go to sitemaps and double-click the demo.sitemap file.

By specifying the address of your home automation server in the field of the last panel on the right, you will see the changes in real time (each time the file is saved).

openhab designer mac os x demo.sitemap

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