I finally got my hands on a new Raspberry Pi 4 and some time to spare – albeit at the expense of Network Traders – to setup a Smart Home server. As server software I chose openHABian. It is super easy to install or, as the installation guide puts it, a “hassle-free openHAB setup”. While this is true, there are newbie mistakes you can make, as I proved. And here is some advice I wish I had come upon quickly when things went wrong.
OpenHABian is really easy to install. You only have to download the Raspberry Pi Imager and select the right image. This writes the custom-made OS onto your SD card within minutes, and you are ready to plug it into your Raspberry Pi and go. But lucky are those who can follow a setup guide to the letter.
This is what happened for me: my new home server started up alright, but the first error I got was about Comitup being unable to start. The server then tried to connect to the internet but was unable to, and rebooted after a minute or so. What had happened?
Follow the openHABian Setup Guide
The setup guide says “Insert the SD card into your Raspberry Pi. Connect your Ethernet or configure Wi-Fi …”. This is where I failed. First time I started up the server, I had no ethernet cable connected. Hence the failure to connect to the internet. I then took the SD card out of the Pi and put it back into my card reader to edit the
openhabian.conf file on my PC. I added my WiFi credentials to get a connection that way, but it was already too late. OpenHABian failed to connect via WiFi as well.
At that point, my installation was already messed up. As the setup guide says, you need to either connect your Pi via an ethernet cable or configure WiFi before starting it for the first time. And here is the solution to this tangle: just write the openHABian image to your SD card again and restart. Next time, I plugged in the ethernet cable right away and everything went smoothly!
Now I am looking forward to finally getting smart home status dashboards, turning lights on and off automatically, and smart shading on those hot summer days coming up.