Smart Home on Wheels: The Ubuntu Server

Every smart home needs a core unit. While we could do this with Windows or macOS, buying a new computer means it also comes with a lot of other, unneeded software and parts. Add on that the fact that we cannot fully customize anything we buy from a vendor, and our choices get reduced or straightjacketed. We want something that is small, can be upgraded, has a low power consumption, doesn’t cost too much, and has a dedicated following and good smart home software.

After a bit of searching, I found a project that takes all of the different smart home technologies out there, bundles it up into one package, and makes a unified interface to control everything. That project is called openHab. It requires a bit more work to set it up, but once it is complete and working, then its very stable. Adding new devices to the smart home is easy too. As a bonus, with openHab, we don’t have to stick to Google, Apple, or Samsung’s smart home technologies, we can use any and all of them in one setup.

The operating system for running this core unit needs to follow the above mentioned requirements. The easiest and most straightforward method for doing this is by using Ubuntu. As with openHab, its free and updated quite frequently. It also runs a wide variety of hardware, so unlike with macOS, we can build a computer with whatever parts we find and make it work.

Plex also runs on Ubuntu, so the core unit can include a media server. File sharing between macOS and Ubuntu is easy to set up too, so with all this, we will have a single computer that can distribute media to our Rokus, backup files from our laptops, store files we don’t have room for on those laptops, and control the Smart Home on Wheels.

With that software setup, we don’t need much else. There will be a few minor things, like making it so a macOS computer can mount the file sharing partition, but that’s simple and I’ve done it before. All we really need is a computer with a decent processor, a lot of RAM, and for it to be as small as possible. I’ve reached out to several companies for information, so whoever responds fasted may get the project in their name.

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