The idea for the concept behind this blog post was born during a lunch break in summer 2018 when in Switzerland the temperature was pretty high and my colleague Stefan Moser and I had the idea to go swimming in the Aare river instead have a proper lunch. This is a good example of how leaving the Office can facilitate creativity! During our walk upstream, Stefan explained to me that he thinks we need to give vGPU also to normal Office Worker users as long we have enough capacity.
Beginning of 2018 we equipped our virtual desktop infrastructure with Nvidia Tesla M10 GPUs after we’ve done some tests and figured out that only in this way we can get the same high user experience like with a powerful physical laptop computer. We purchased 4 new VMware Hosts with each 2 Tesla M10 GPUs, this is good enough to equip 256 VDIs with an M10-B Profile, which is recommended with Windows 10 and 2 screens.
This means our challenge was having 250 pooled non-persistent VDIs with only 100 vGPUs, that’s the amount of vGPUs we don’t need for the dedicated VDIs with special GPU needs. The idea was also to use vGPU-VDIs as long we have and then switch to the cheap GPU-less desktop.
The implementation of this solution is pretty simple if you know the Power of Tags in a Citrix Virtual Desktop environment.
The script is running as a scheduled Task e.g. every 5 minutes and opens and close the overflow pool.
Of course, depending on the Logon storm you need to consider how often the script is running and how many spare desktops you keep before you close the pool (VDI Offset, $FreeMachineThreshold in the Script).
Other use cases:
This script is not only useable to overflow a GPU/Non-GPU workload, but it can also be used in the various scenarios.
Just some examples:
– different hardware types, first the new cool servers than the old hardware.
– existing On-Prem resources before pay-per-use cloud resources
– Catalog in the same location before in a remote location (without any Citrix zones)
The script is available on GitHub:
Q: Are Tags also working when you are using Citrix Cloud?
A: Yes They are. (Thanks @bjoernmue for this info)
Those who follow me on Twitter and Facebook have already seen that I promoted the Revolut card multiple times. This was just as a happy customer! When I’m really convinced of a product I love to spread the word and want that others also can use the new cool stuff! I was a Revolut User since the beginning of 2018 and until today I spend over 8000 CHF over Revolut in 8 countries.
Yesterday 2 very important things happened
#1 Revolut introduced ApplePay for every customer (Standart, Premium & Metal).
#2 Revolut added me to the Pioneer Programm.
#1 Means you can now open a Revolut account in seconds and you are ready after some minutes to use ApplePay!
#2 Means not only that I receive from Revolut nice influencer perks, but it also means when YOU open a Revolut account with my link, but you should also receive your first physical card free of charge. Now you ask yourself why a physical card when you have ApplePay …Ok, first, a backup is always good, e.g. what if your iPhone battery is discharged. Also, you need the card if you want to pull money from an ATM. Revolut does not charge you until up to 200.- month on Standard for cash withdrawals at ATMs!
Ok, wait… was is Revolut precisely?
Revolut is an e-money service, which means app plus physical or virtual card. With Revolut, you can spend at home or abroad at the real interbank exchange rate (without unfair bank fees), set spending budgets, split bills, exchange currencies and withdraw from foreign ATMs for free (up to £200 month on Standard). With Revolut you can freeze/unfreeze your cards at the tap of a button. And with Premium and Metal account, where you pay a monthly fee, the possibilities are even more. But start with the Standard, you can do every time later an upgrade if you need.
- If you have to choose the currency during payment or at an ATM, ALWAYS choose the currency of the country you are currently in, so you avoid bad conversion rates outside of the force of Revolut.
- You are on a weekend trip and use your Revolut card during the weekend in a foreign currency? Exchange the money you need on the weekend already on Friday and avoid “weekend-fees” from Revolut.
- There are ATMs which have fees for the transaction by the ATM carrier, you will see this before of the transaction, keep an eye on it, I see fees between 0.- and 5.-! This is outside the force of Revolut.
- If you are in a Hotel or a Car rental and you want to use the Revolut card, consider that they may block a larger amount of your money!
- Don’t top up the Revolut card with a classic Credit card, there are Banks (e.g. Corner in Switzerland) who charge 5.- CHF fee to charge Revolut.
How to start?
- Click the link
- Enter your phone number (a text will be sent upon completion)
- To Download the app
- Create a new account in minutes
- Verify your account and top-up at least €10 or local currency equivalent
- Order your physical standard card for free
- You can create virtual cards and use those asap!
This Service is not yet available in all countries, but if you are not able to use the service you will see this already in Step 2. As I know there are some readers of my blog in the United States of America I have bad news … Currently, it’s not yet possible to open a Revolut account living in the US. As soon this will be available I will update this blog post.
And how can I use now ApplePay?
You need a device that supports ApplePay e.g. an iPhone 6 or higher or an AppleWatch. Also, it’s mandatory that ApplePay is enabled in your resident Country.
ApplePay can be added directly in the Revolut App or in a classic way in the Apple Wallet app.
By the way, to use Revolut (even without ApplePay) you need a smartphone on which you can install the Revolut App!
Disclaimer: Some months ago I was pretty sure to never write a blog post about money or a Fin Tech company. Because this is about YOUR money YOU have to make your own decisions and be careful. What I suggest is to start with a free Standart account and just start with some pocket money. Revolut does not replace your today main account!
On Black Friday sale I ordered my first VR Headset, an Oculus Go (64GB) for 222.- CHF (about 222 US $), in my opinion, a good deal for my first step in the word of Virtual Reality.
The Oculus Go is a very entry level VR with the benefit that you don’t need an additional Computer. The integrated hardware with an Android OS does all the work. But this article will not be a review of the Oculus Go as there are many others already available.
Usually, you use your Oculus Go with the apps in the Oculus store, but there is a known trick to load also other Android Apps to the Oculus, called “Sideload” and Android application. You need to set up your Oculus in Developer mode and then you are able to add APK files to the Oculus.
Here a good description of how to Sideload works: https://headjack.io/tutorial/sideload-install-app-apk-oculus-go
“Sideloaded” apps appear in Oculus Tv app in the section “unknown sources”, but unfortunately, I was not able to see the just uploaded Citrix Workspace App. I also tried after the installation of the Workspace app to just launch the Oculus Browser and open a Desktop from our companies “Citrix Web Receiver” (Netscaler, Storefront Web):
After that unsuccessful try to launch a virtual desktop, I tried to play around with sideloading other apps. I found out that the app Kodi and ES File Explorer appears in the Oculus Tv app in the section other sources. Both applications can be used to see and start other Android apps installed on the System.
So I can use the Oculus Tv to launch ES File Explorer and this app as a launcher for the Citrix Workspace App. Ok agree, all in all, sounds a bit like in the Movie Inception … virtual reality to Oculus app to native Android app to virtual desktop to other virtual desktops or virtual apps …
Unfortunately, I didn’t find out how to record the content running in Oculus when a sideloaded app is launched, so I had to trick for the video above, the first part is screen recorded, the second part is with a camera in the headset …
It’s pretty easy to set up an Oculus Go to run with the Citrix Workspace app, and the Oculus Go is an affordable VR headset. This is a cool tech demo, but not sure if I want to work a long time in an Oculus Go provided VR because this headset is really entry level. Assume headache and “VR fatigue” comes fast. Also, I miss a real Keyboard in VR. But with Augmented Reality or Mixed Reality, I think it can be a solution on the future to work with a virtual virtual Workplace!
For my tests I used:
Downloaded APKs from apkmirror.com :
ES File Explorer: com.estrongs.android.pop_22.214.171.124.1-729_minAPI14(armeabi,armeabi-v7a,x86)(nodpi)_apkmirror.com.apk
Citrix Workspace App: com.citrix.Receiver_126.96.36.199-94_minAPI19(armeabi,armeabi-v7a,x86)(nodpi)_apkmirror.com.apk
Now it’s already 2,5 years since I was elected as a Citrix Technology Professional. Becoming a CTP was a really big honor for me, but I didn’t write a long blog post about that.
Maybe because I was shocked about the fact I was chosen or I was just afraid because more eyes from the Community and Citrites are looking to me and I fear I’ll not find the right words.
I think now I’m able to write a short retrospective about this time, no I don’t say that because I intend to step back, I’m still happy in this role 🙂 But who knows if I will be active enough to get re-elected.
According to the Citrix Website (https://www.citrix.com/community/ctp) individuals are eligible to be a CTP when they prove their knowledge in Citrix products and invest a lot of time: “The CTP Program recognizes the contributions of individuals who have invested a significant amount of time and resources to become experts in Citrix products and solutions.”
Honestly, after being elected as CTP, I felt a bit under pressure to deliver new blog posts and to speak at conferences. Both are something that I like to do, but it’s only easy when I really have something to show or say. The Health Check automation was something and my early adopter experience with Windows 10, but I think these topics are now more or less stale. And for the blog posts when I have time to write it down…
The value of being a CTP is that I have access to Beta and EAR sources of the products, having a free pass to Citrix Synergy and the best, direct access to the Product Management. Besides all the CTP goodies, there is also liability and duties. Maybe not all people out there are aware of that. A CTP is not the Extension of the Citrix marketing department! But in my opinion, a CTP should be a communication channel between Citrix and their customers and more from the customer in the direction of Citrix.
To get elected as a CTP is not an easy thing, but also to stay a CTP needs effort! To make the grade for the CTP Program there are multiple possible activities. There are 1-2 online meetings with Product Management which takes about 1 hour. Also, there are two in-person meetings which take 2-3 days each.
So, if you aim to be a CTP, please think that it needs a bunch of spare time to satisfy the needs! I’m doing this partially in my free time and my employer “Die Mobiliar” supports me and gives me time for the in-person meetings. Also, I have support from my wife, my family and my friends and colleagues at Die Mobiliar. At this place THANK YOU!
Besides the CTP Program, I’m also active for the CUGC, on one hand as a local leader here in Switzerland but also in the CUGC Steering Committee. I think this is kind of “double burden” but also there were good synergies to combine these two or three roles.
I sometimes was asked “What can you accomplish as a CTP?” and now I can see that I’m really able to help Citrix and the Community to bring products in better shape to the customer needs. I posted some Feature Requests and those were implemented in the last months. These are only very little features, but for me, the fact that they implemented them was a big thing!
Here are some examples:
- VDI Battery Indicator:
this feature was implemented in Virtual Desktops (XenDesktop) 7.18 !
- Limit Number of Desktops in a Site
The next feature request I submitted because my SwissCUGC fellow leader Stefan Beckmann (https://www.beckmann.ch / @alphasteff)had an issue with the missing feature in version 7.x of Virtual Apps & Desktops (XenApp/XenDesktop): This is now implemented in version 1808 (former version naming would say 7.19). (If you want to use this feature, this is currently available in command line not in the Studio)
- StoreFront Logout without closing Browser
Also, this article describes the impact of a feature request from me: http://blog.sachathomet.ch/2017/01/03/storefront-allowreloginwithoutbrowserclose/
- And also, the missing Windows 10 disconnect button I repeatedly requested from Product Management – but guess I was not the only one … 🙂 A fix you can find here https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX225970 and I hope soon it will be implemented in the standard VDA
I hope now you have a bit an idea of the role of a Citrix Technology Professional and know that it’s more than just a title like a certification like CCE-V or so. There are a lot of brilliant CTPs, see the full list here: https://www.citrix.com/community/ctp/awardees.html or follow them on Twitter, Citrix has a complete list: https://twitter.com/citrix/lists/ctps
Translation of this Blog Post to English will follow later
Als wir diesen Sommer in den Urlaub fuhren, wurde mir wieder bewusst wie toll es ist, dass ich mein zu Hause “Smart” gemacht habe. In vorherigen Smart Home Blog-Posts konntet ihr bereits lesen dass ich einerseits eine selbst zusammen gestellte Lösung mit Home Assistant als zentrale Komponente betreibe, aber auch die Produkte von Energie 360 welche unter dem Namen Smartacus verkauft werden einsetze.
Ich gebe es zu, ich bin ein Kontrollfreak … ich will immer wissen was bei mir zu Hause geht. Es geht mir dabei nicht darum Leute zu überwachen, aber Raumtemperatur, offene Türen, Stromkonsum oder Schadensverursachende Einflüsse möchte ich gerne erkennen.
Hier ein paar Beispiele:
Wer kennt es nicht, nach dem wegfahren zu Hause kommt plötzlich der Gedanke “Habe ich den Kochherd auch wirklich ausgeschaltet?”
Mit einem entsprechend ausgerüsteten SmartHome kann man sich diese Frage mit einem Blick auf der Smartphone App sofort selbst beantworten. Voraussetzung ist natürlich dass die Energiemessung im SmartHome integriert wurde, bei Smartacus geht dies z.B. mit dem Strommessmodul, wenn man lieber selbst bastelt und eine Lösung für HomeAssistant sucht lässt sich z.B. Smappee dafür integrieren.
Mit dem Strommessmodul kann man natürlich auch gerade sein Standby-Konsum überprüfen, es macht durchaus Sinn alle nicht genutzten Geräte vor dem Urlaub ganz auszuschalten oder vom Netz zu nehmen. Das spart Strom, dadurch schont es die Geldbörse und man kann noch das minimale Risiko eines Brandes durch einen Kurzschluss etc. auf 0 reduzieren. Eigentlich weiss das ja jeder, aber mir wurde es mit der Strommessung erneut vor Augen geführt. Der Stromverbrauch der Smartacus Zentraleinheit ist mit ca 5 Watt übrigens enorm gering!
Habe ich erwähnt das in meinem SmartHome diverse Steckdosen stromlos gemacht werden, sobald ich das Haus verlasse und mein Mobiltelefon nicht mehr im Home WLAN ist? Nein … ok das ist das was für einen nächsten Blog-Post – bei Interesse wie ich das mache darf man gerne Anfragen.
Ein weiterer Grund das sich mein Smart Home diesen Sommer besonders nützlich erwies war die Tatsache, dass ich es mit einem Flut-Sensor ausgestattet habe um so “den Wasserstand” in meinem Keller zu checken. Siehe mein Post “Unterwasser“. Ich wusste somit auch das mit zu Hause keine böse Überraschung erwartet.
Trotz Smart Home hatte meine Schwiegermutter den Auftrag die Werbung aus dem Briefkasten 1x die Woche zu entfernen und in der Wohnung abzulegen, mit den Tür-Sensoren konnte ich feststellen ob und wann das gemacht wurde …
Urlaubszeit ist auch Einbruchszeit – mit dem zufälligen ein- und ausschalten von Lichtern kann eine Anwesenheit simuliert werden, was eventuell ein Einbrecher vor einer Tat abhält.
I really like summer and as a scuba diver I like a lot thins what are under water.
But last week after a summer storm there was to much under water … our basement was flooded 🙁
I’m not routinely in the basement, just when I need to take up a bottle of wine or something out of the freezer.
Until last week our basement was poorly equipped by IoT, the only one what I do is that I measure the power consumption of the freezer. But that exactly saved me from more damage, I was alerted because the freezer started to consume 100 watt instead of the usual 45 watt. So I decided to sight what is wrong. The basement was already flooded with 40cm of water.
Now I’m prepared for the future, I have installed now a Fibaro Flood Sensor and integrated to my Smartacus Smart Home System . Now I can see earlier when water comes into the basement and I have the chance to power off the freezer and to alert somebody to exhaust the water. The installation of the leak sensor with smartacus is pretty easy.
I learned, when a Smart Home System is present – it definitely makes sense to have sensors for all possible issues.
In Citrix Receiver 4.11 there is a new feature for Improved Control Over the Remote Language Bar for Seamless Published Applications (See https://support.citrix.com/article/CTX231913 ). This is especially for us here in Switzerland nice and important as we have four official spoken languages and also different Keyboard layouts. There is German, French, Italian and Romansh. Romansh is more or less neglected but beside German the languages French and Italian play a significant role.
As I plan to roll out the Receiver 4.11 in my company, my aim is to keep the possibility open for the user for configure that on receiver, but I want to have a pre-defined setting. By the way, earlier we always hid the Language bar by making use of the SeamlessFlags (on server side). But I experienced that this had in Server 2016 a negative impact to the logon time, don’t ask me why … But it’s a fact and i’s reproducible so I keep the Language bar visible and now I’m very happy that this is configurable in Receiver.
The configuration of this both features is is described here https://docs.citrix.com/en-us/receiver/windows/current-release/improve/keyboard-layout-and-language-bar.html and it’s possible to hide this Advanced feature with a reg Key.
But there is just described the config via GUI for the user! And there is today no way to configure that in the ADMX 🙁
With the help of ProcMon and Total Commander I just found out which two settings are getting touched when User set this preferences:
Local Keyboard is in the good old Appsrv.ini – the value is LocalIME=1 to use the local keyboard
Language Bar is HKCU\SOFTWARE\Ica Client\Engine\Configuration\Advanced\Modules\LocalIME
So if you want to configure this for all users you need to “patch” the AppSrv.ini to set the local Keyboard and/or Adjust the reg key above to disable the Language Bar on receiver side.
Article will be translated to english soon
Die Anwendungsfälle von IoT sind nahezu unbegrenzt, eher setzt die Vorstellungskraft Grenzen als die Technik. Wie Smartacus auf Ihrer Webseite wirbt sind im Bereich Smart Home folgende 3 Ziele die am meisten gesehenen:
- Energieverbräuche senden (“intelligentes” Heizen und Beleuchten)
- Komfort steigern (z.B. Szenenbasierte Geräte/Lichtsteuerung)
- Sicherheit erhöhen (Licht einschalten beim Heimkommen, aktive Sensoren bei Abwesenheit)
Ich habe mit der Smart Home Geschichte angefangen, weil ich es spannend finde zu sehen was möglich ist, meiner Frau verkaufe ich es natürlich als Komfortverbesserung.
Achtung! Mit einem falsch eingesetzten Smart Home lässt sich im Übrigen auch genau das Gegenteil erreichen! Ein nicht gut konfiguriertes System kann den Komfort verschlechtern, die Sicherheit reduzieren oder auch mehr Energie verbrauchen. Hier ist es wichtig zu wissen was man macht und welche Produkte man einsetzt. Ich verzichte zum Beispiel absichtlich im Moment auf eine smarte Türöffnung wie es sie z.B. von Nuki gibt. Auch messe ich den Stromverbrauch meiner Komponenten bevor ich diese integriere. Die Smartacus Basisstation braucht zum Beispiel nur 7 Watt beim Start und 4 Watt im Betrieb.
Aber nun weiche ich vom Thema ab … eigentlich wollte ich in diesem Blog-Post Beispiele bringen wie Smartacus eingesetzt werden kann. Natürlich sind diese Anwendungsfälle auch auf andere Smart-Home Systeme anwendbar.
Hier meine ersten realisierten Anwendungsfälle
Wer braucht 22° wenn er schläft? Ist es nicht Schade wenn in der Nacht die Wohnung stärker geheizt wird als nötig, bei tieferer Temperatur schläft man nicht nur besser sondern man spart auch Energie! Hier erreichen wir sowohl den Energiespar-Effekt wie auch die Komfortsteigerung. Zu realisieren ist das Ganze im Smartacus Portal via den Reiter Zeitsteuerung.
Auch wird viel Energie verpufft, wenn man Fenster oder Türen öffnet, gerade jetzt wo wir Temperaturen weit unter dem Gefrierpunkt haben, dreht die Heizung voll auf wenn es rapid Kalt wird.
Mit Einsatz eines Tür-/Fensterkontaktes (1) kann dies verhindert werden und wir heizen nicht das Dorf sondern der Heizkörper Thermostat (2) regelt die Temperatur runter. Dies geschieht über den Reiter Dienste:
Natürlich muss man dran denken auch einen “Gegendienst” zu bauen welcher bei Schliessung der Tür die Heizung wieder auf die Wunschtemperatur stellt.
Früher habe ich Weihnachts-Beleuchtung einfach mit einer mechanischen Zeitschaltuhr dazu gebracht nur am Abend und am Morgen zu leuchten. Ein smarter Zwischenstecker (3) lässt sich zwar wie eine Zeitschaltuhr konfigurieren und man erreicht damit dass Weihnachtsdeko nicht für die Katze leuchtet, aber toll ist das man es Beispielsweise mit einem Multisensor (4) erweitern kann und somit die Beleuchtung auch abhängig von Helligkeit oder Bewegung steuern. So kann jemand um 02:00 in der Nacht an unserem Balkon vorbeilaufen und der Leuchtende Stern geht auch für diesen Nachtschwärmer an.
Intelligentes “dummes” Heizen
Dieser Winter war wieder besonders kalt und letzte Woche als bei uns eine Aussentemperatur von -14° Celsius herrschte ist es wieder passiert, uns sind im Keller die Wasserleitungen zu gefroren.
In unserem alten Haus, welches ein umgebautes Bauernhaus aus dem letzten Jahrhundert ist, lässt sich dieses Problem leider nur durch jeweils kurzfristiges elektrisches Heizen lösen. Im Keller gibt es keine Möglichkeit anders zu heizen. Eine leider sehr ineffiziente und verschwenderische Lösung.
Zum Glück reicht es, wenn wir im Keller eine Temperatur von 4-5° erreichen, das Problem ist dass sich die im Haushalt gebräuchlichen Elektroöfen nicht auf 4° einstellen lassen, die Skala beginnt irgendwo bei 15°.
Beside of Citrix and virtualization topics I had already Smart Home and IoT topics in the past here on this blog. You can find posts about smart switches and bulbs or about a smart switch combined with the LaMetric smart watch.
Recent weeks I wrote about my smart mirror and about Home Assistant, both are projects which require advanced IT knowledge and are only interesting for people with according skills and time for a DYO project. REST and Python should not be unknown words … Often I was asked “Sacha can you please also build this for me?” I have a full-time job, I have a family, I’m active for the Citrix community and sometimes I work in my free time as a Scuba Diving Instructor. So, I’m pretty engaged and I cannot spend time to do this for others. But in my opinion, everyone should have the possibility make his home smart.
Some weeks ago, Smartacus has come to my attention. This complete solution is pretty similar like the Home Assistant which I blogged about last week, it combines different components to one place. Smartacus is a product by Energie 360° and is developed for the market in Switzerland.
Compared with Home Assistant is Smartacus a commercial product for End-users, which don’t have the time or skills for a DYI project.
In December, I received my Smartacus Start package, in this post I write about the chosen components, the Unboxing and putting into operation.
Packages – the components
It’s possible to choose predefined packaged from Smartacus or to build an own individual set. Basically a Smartacus-setup consists a central unit and one or more sensors and “actors”.
The central unit has connections to the local components and is connected to the “Smartacus-Cloud” in the Internet. But now I’m already way to technical, Smartacus is for End-users which won’t know too much about the tech.
If somebody don’t know what he need, it’s possible to talk with the Chatbot on the Smartacus web site. The Chatbot will help to choose what you need and fill up the shopping basket. A nice example how a Chatbot can help.
In reason, I don’t have a photovoltaic system and I’m living in a rented apartment I decided to start only with the radiator thermostat system and some added components.
This System would be definitely thrilling in an owned house with a photovoltaic installation.
I opened the package and immediately I remarked that Energie 360° and Smartacus are not boring people. Even I didn’t ordered the energy package, I received some personal energy for the time on which I install my Smartacus System. Some food and an energy drink …
I ordered the following components :
- Central Unit
- 3x Radiator thermostat
- 2x Door- / Window Sensor
- 1x Smoke detector
- 1 Multi Sensor
- 1x flush-mounted switch relay
- 1x Switch und measure plug
Putting in operation
To put the central unit in operation is an easy thing, just plug in the Ethernet cable to the switch or router, plug in the power cable in – and the physical installation is done.
After the Smartacus central unit is online you can login to the portal and configure your setup, the system will guide you through all steps.
I was in doubt to have another central unit in my network, I have already one for my Philips Hue and one for my WirelessTags. I thought another new device which needs power… but this time I was positively surprised, it consumes 7 Watt on start-up and 4 Watt in normal operation.
Integration of Smart Devices
The integration of new devices is simple, on the portal the binding of a new device is handled in three steps. The action which has to be done on the device is explained on the portal.
Formerly I had already radiator thermostats from another manufacturer, but those I removed after I found out that already a slightly touch demolish the installation.
This new radiator thermostats supplied by Smartacus are manufactured by Danfoss and are from the quality perspective much better and stable. The installation can be done in a few minutes:
My interim conclusion at this point:
+ very easy installation
+ high quality components
– Limited number of components by Smartacus
After my smart mirror project which was exciting, I can still only see the values of the integrated sensors on the mirror. The problem that I can’t control my smart devices from one place still exists.
The conglomeration of smart devices in my home is very various, I need to work with something which is open for almost everything imaginable.
On Facebook, I saw a post of an acquaintance who adverted for Home Assistant (home-assistant.io). Home Assistant is an open-source home automation platform running on Python 3. Track and control all devices at home and automate control. Perfect to run on a Raspberry Pi.
Hass.io (Home Assistant) is still in development but works already good. I’ve started with version 0.48 or so and now in December 2017 we are on 0.60.
First I started with Hass.io on a Raspberry Pi 3, but then I’ve upgraded my Synology NAS and the new one is able to run Docker, so I moved my Home Assistant to a Container on my NAS.
I don’t write here now a post how to install and run Home Assistant, that you can find in Getting started on hass.io, the intention of this post is a short Intro for Home Assistant with some hints for the practice.
For Hass.io there is also a mobile app, you can use the App if you are in the same network as your Home Assistant server or you have a VPN connection in this network. It’s also possible to expose the server to the internet, it contains all you need for that like duck dns and Let’s Encrypt. But I won’t do that for security consideration.
Devices and Components
Home Assistant has a very broad range of supported smart devices, I added the following devices to my system:
- Philips Hue
- MyStrom (Bulb, Wifi Switch & Button.)
- Different Sensors from WirelessTag
- Tesla Model S (want buy one?, use my referral code)
- Netatmo Weather Station (Amazon Link)
- UniFi Controller
- Arlo Webcam (Amazon Link)
- Philips Webcam
- Apple TV
- Sonos One (Amazon Link)
- Logitech Harmony Hub (Amazon Link)
- Some Devices in my Network can be started with Wake on Lan.
A short demo of how that looks on my environment:
Before I used Home Assistant I automated some of my smart devices with IFTTT, with hass.io I can now do that “On Premises”.
I created the following “recipes” for my home automation:
- If the IKEA lamp in my living room turns on, also turn on the lights in my vitrine (LED plugged in a MyStrom Smart Plug):
- If my UniFi controller doesn’t see any Wifi Mac address of the mobile phones of my family members, the automation “Away-Mode” turns on. This procedure powers off some Smart Plugs, bring my Sonos Player to pause, and all Hue lights will be turned off.
In contrast to IFTTT it’s possible with hass.io to combine things almost indefinitely. It’s possible to define so-called Conditions.
If you try Home Assistant and you start to create and modify your *.yaml files, really use a text editor which shows you invisible characters! Python is very fussy for syntax errors even when only an invisible character.
Make backup from your files before you modify it, this can help to avoid some frustration.
If you intend to add a MyStrom Smart Button, I found out that this doesn’t work currently if your Home Assistant Web GUI is protected with a password.
A big benefit of Home Assistant is that it’s an open system with a large developer community, there are many components integrated and it’s possible to integrate by your own.
The downside of Home Assistant is that’s currently not yet a solution for an Enduser without any IT skills. More and more it’s now configurable via Web GUI but without any IT knowledge, it’s impossible to manage it.
+ Command center for your Smart Home
+ Interaction with your smart components is possible
+ many Components integrated
+ App for your mobile phone or tablet computer
+ – Open Source (Open to integrate other things, improve code vs Security)
– Not an End-user product
– Needs Maintenance
A short preview for my third Smart Home article, I will show you something which is also usable for End-Users without IT Knowledge. I know the readers of my blog are mostly IT Pro’s but I’m sure you have also friends who want to play the Smart Home game and have no clue how to start.