We noticed that there is some confusion in the community about how Hass.io relates to Home Assistant and what impact the upcoming Hass.io changes will have. We will try to clarify it all in this blog post.
What is Hass.io
Hass.io is a complete solution to run Home Assistant, by the authors of Home Assistant. The goal of Hass.io is to provide an easy to use and secure system, entirely managed from within the Home Assistant user interface.
Hass.io is a complete solution, which means that it comes with its own highly secure and optimized operating system, a supervisor application to maintain and configure that system, and of course Home Assistant itself.
When using Hass.io, you’ll see a new Hass.io panel inside the Home Assistant UI. From here users can configure the system and install Home Assistant updates with a simple click of a button. Users are also able to make snapshots of their system, making it easy to migrate all their configuration to a new system or restore their system to a previous state.
We wanted to be able to provide the convenience of seamless updates and configuration via the UI to other applications too, and so we introduced Hass.io add-ons. Any application can be packaged up as a Hass.io add-on, allowing any user to install and manage it easily. Since the introduction, we’ve seen an amazing growth in users sharing their add-ons with the community. It’s now possible to install an adblocker for your network, an MQTT broker or Tor with a single click.
Upcoming changes to Hass.io
We’ve introduced Hass.io last July. Since then, we’ve noticed some room for improvements in making Hass.io easier to use, lighter to maintain and easier to integrate with other host systems.
Note that the descriptions of upcoming improvements can get quite technical. Feel free to jump to the conclusion.
Automatic add-on configuration
Home Assistant has recently introduced configuration entries. We’re going to hook into this new functionality and allow add-ons to configure their related integration in Home Assistant automatically. For example, if a user installs the MQTT broker add-on, we will automatically set up Home Assistant to connect to it.
To control the host system, we currently use a custom service called HostControl. This allows the user to manage here host and restart/shutdown the computer from within Home Assistant. Instead of relying on our own system, we’re going to change to use D-Bus. D-Bus is a standardized mechanism for services and applications to communicate. Using a defined standard means that all parts of the host can now be remotely configured: sound, network, etc, etc. We will be extending the Hass.io panel in Home Assistant with controls to configure various parts of the host.
Hass.io is currently using a forked version of ResinOS as our operating system. ResinOS has been designed to run a minimal environment for Docker, simple over the air updates and connect to the ResinIO cloud. Our fork removed the ResinIO logic. Over time, ResinOS has been evolving but not in a direction that is aligned with our goals, resulting in the maintenance of our fork to take up a lot of time.
The ResinOS build system is based on the Yocto Project. This is a very powerful system, but also requires specific support for each hardware platform need to be specifically added and maintained (like each version of Raspberry Pi), which caused long build and development times for Hass.io.
All these factors made us decide to build our own, custom, operating system. We’re obviously not starting from scratch, but instead, are basing it off Buildroot as the foundation and use RAUC for over the air updates.
Some things that the new operating system will be able to do:
- Easier to add support for new hardware.
- Updating will be atomic and has a Fail-safe. If a system fails to boot after an OS upgrade, it will fallback, by booting the previous working version.
- Updates are required to be securely signed by the Home Assistant team, adding a whole new level of security.
- Compressing the root file system, making it faster on SD cards and slow IO-Interfaces.
- Compressing parts of the memory so that we can store more information.
What Hass.io users should do to prepare for these updates
At this moment: Nothing.
The new Hass.io supervisor still supports the old ResinOS builds (our official downloads for Raspberry Pi and Intel NUC) and generic Linux installations. If you’re using a generic Linux installation on SUSE Linux or Ubuntu, you have to update your local AppArmor profile if you want to use the new functionality (instructions will be provided upon release).
Once our new installation images with HassioOS are released, you have to reflash your device once. You can do this without losing any configuration by using our Snapshot feature:
- Create a snapshot of your current installation and download it to your PC.
- Flash the SD card with the new Hass.io OS image.
- Restore your snapshot.
- Enjoy a new and improved Hass.io