Six Linux home automation clicks

Six Linux home automation clicks

Summary: Long before people were talking about the Internet of Things, Linux-based home automation systems were available. Here are some of today's most interesting Linux-powered home gadgets.

TOPICS: Hardware, Google, Linux

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  • Google's Nest for your home

    Google thinks its move into the home with the acquisition of Nest for a cool $3.2 billion is well worth the cash.

    Why? Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett stated, "Google's acquisition of Nest affirms the growing strategic importance of the idea of the connected home. It also shows that Google increasingly believes in hardware/software solutions, such as Nest has built, rather than just building operating systems for other manufacturers to implement in smartphones, Chromebooks, and TVs."

    So what in terms of gadgets did Google get? Well, for now, not that much. At this time, Nest only offers a smart thermostat, the $249 Nest Learning Thermostat and a smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector, the $99 Nest Protect.

    These devices may not sound that exciting, but with remote smartphone control and the Theromstat's ability to control "smart-grid heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) devices," Nextmarket expects Nest to sell 200,000 units a month in 2014. For the HVAC business, this is big business.

    As for Nest Protect, I predict it's going to have a great future for one reason alone: No low-battery chirps. Hallelujah!

    Google is also expected to add a lot more devices to Nest's Internet of Things (IoT) family.

  • The Return of Chumby

    Chumby, one of the first home IoT devices powered by Linux, or by any other operating system for that matter, appeared in 2008. This product went unsupported for over a year, but recently Chumby, a cute touchscreen gadget that looks like an alarm clock, has risen from the grave.

    During its hiatus, you could still use a Chumby as an Internet music player, and yes, an alarm clock. Today, the company promises that it has over a thousand applications. Some of these apps — a San Diego Zoo Webcam? — are not really apps at all. Others, like a bandwidth monitor that lets you see what your internet connectivity looks like from your router, are more interesting.

    Accessing these new apps wil run you $3 a month. The old Chumby models will work with the new services. If you want a new one, the Chumby One, which looks like the old model, will run you $79.99. The Chumby 8, which is more streamlined and comes in red and black costs $99.99.

Topics: Hardware, Google, Linux

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  • How about the Toaster ?

    Oh and don't forget the fridge.
    • ....and don't forget the fridge.....

      Yeah, we are there already.

      Just sayin'
  • What about home automation for tinkerers and open source programmers?

    Surely Philips Hue and LIFX (light bulbs) is not open source, but its APIs allow open source programmers to make it be part of a Linux home server, allowing a server to control lights.

    Are there any home automation products that expose all the API features for anyone to write code and tinker with?
    Grayson Peddie
    • APIs

      It's coming. Keep an eye on what the Allseen Alliance ( comes out with in the next few months.
      • AllSeen Alliance

        In theory, does this allow me to develop my own Linux application that would allow me to control LG's WebOS-based TV?
        Grayson Peddie
    • open software + open hardware

      Coming up soon! Have a look at . If it's going to be Linux it's not yet defined but it's going to be fully open.
      • Not really plug-in modules, right?

        I don't plan to mess with apartment's wall switches and electrical wall outlets...
        Grayson Peddie
        • #homwire new #PlugIN-cube

          Thanks for the feedback!
          We're listening carefully to everybody's feedback and added a new plug-in component to ease the adoption.
          What do you think? any more hints?
  • Six Linux home automation clicks

    Compiling your thermostat or crockpot doesn't sound fun. A linux home automation system will leave your house open to hackers because of the telnet port being open. Just leave your front door open next time as its the same thing. You'd better hope its someone ethical that will turn on the crockpot for you because you forgot to do it before leaving the house this morning. I'd rather have devices that I can just turn on and use instead of linux based ones where you to patch and compile daily.
    • Lying again.

      You have no idea of how these are secured, or built.

      In no case does it require to "patch and compile" daily.

      Though your windows systems needs a "patch daily" to keep it working - and you only get the patch monthly.... except for your applications which don't get patched.

      And hope the patch doesn't brick your system.
    • Telnet ? Really ??!

      I haven't seen a Linux system, big or small, with an open telnet port .. or even an installed telnet server since the last millennium ! .. and before you say it, I look look after hundreds of Linux systems across various sites and companies.

      If you're going to try spreading FUD about Linux, at least try and look vaguely knowledgeable eh ?
      Andrew Meredith
      • *sigh*. You fed the troll.

    • Great comedy, LD!

      Nobody takes you seriously, but I wish more people would really appriecate your jokes! We need your comedy to balance out all the serious posts in here.
  • Embedded, stripped, tailored kernels

    What you call Linux, that which is put into appliances and such is as much a Linux OS as embedded Windows is a desktop OS. Oh, wait, actually embedded Windows is much closer to a user usable OS than these tiny kernels with a singular purpose.

    But, for those sorts of singular tasks, tiny and focused Linux kernels are very well suited for.

    Still scratching my head just how you make the leap from Linux driving in a toaster to anything else, that because it can "run" my appliances that somehow that means something greater. Just to illustrate this point, I had to go back to Windows, or Mac, because Linux is not supported by a number of my online educational resources for the degree program I am using. For example, some of the proctored exams I am able to do at home (hence the online portion of the program).

    So, I have to run Mac or Windows, and that is not my fault, or MS, or Apple. This is because Linux is the wild-wild west of OS's. Why else would Netflix refuse to release a Linux version?

    You guessed it, they cannot secure their apps, the OS is designed against DRM and so on. So, back to Windows (from Mint) I went.

    Linux is nothing more than machine code, once compiled. Its machine code, binary, that's it. If the underlying design is not able to protect the integrity of the educational testing process because it is too easy to hack, allowing students to cheat, what the hell good is it?

    Let it power the smarts in my TV, appliances, and so on. I gave it the college try as a desktop and laptop OS for six months.
    • You are both right and wrong

      > "Why else would Netflix refuse to release a Linux version? You guessed it, they cannot secure their apps, the OS is designed against DRM and so on."

      DRM is not about 'securing' apps. It's about stopping the user from having control of what happens on THEIR OWN computer. You are right this is likely part of the reason Netflix doesn't typically develop for Linux (at least not natively, as I do indeed watch Netflix on Linux). In fact there is one legitimate (although not really open) Netflix on Linux implementation: Google's Chromecast. Much of Netflix's infrastructure is Linux based so that should be something to think about: It's good enough for them to use, but they don't want you to. It's about control. When they have it, it's good and when you have it, it's bad.

      > "If the underlying design is not able to protect the integrity of the educational testing process because it is too easy to hack, allowing students to cheat, what the hell good is it?"

      It has nothing to do with hacking, or with being able to 'protect the integrity' of anything. Linux gives you control of what your computer is doing in a way Microsoft and Apple will not. But even that is irrelevant to the education issue. It's almost certain that the testing software requires Windows simply because that is the dominant platform, and nothing else. There's no reason whatsoever a proctored exam couldn't be administered via a server side application where the client OS doesn't matter. Relying on control over the client OS is just sloppy design in the end, but typical.
    • Incorrect

      Raid6 said "Why else would Netflix refuse to release a Linux version?"

      Well, a Linux version pe se, yes. But the Roku player has always been based on the Linux kernel. And the original intent of the Roku was to allow people to view Netflix; it has grown since but still uses Linux at its heart.
  • Why

    Why does the article need to be "Linux Home Automation"? Why not just "Home Automation"? Why does every article have to be meat for the Holy Wars? There's no need. The hardware is what it is and stands on its own. Why can't SJN actually acknowledge any home automation hardware that's good and not the OS that's it's built around. Can't any tech writers acknowledge good equipment without using plucked examples to crow about? I just want good stuff regardless of its heritage.
    • well... Most of the home automation IS Linux.

      But some isn't.

      And to prevent confusion adding Linux to the title of an article focused on the Linux side of "Home Automation" prevents confusion.
    • Re: Why

      Would you rather have hardware and software that only works with Windows or Windows and Mac but not Linux?
      Grayson Peddie
  • Oh this brings back expensive memories...

    2003, The Linux based Pluto Home media/Automation solution. A brilliant idea dreamed up in the States. Looking round I still don't think the industry has anything as good as this even after 10 years. The key was not to make bespoke kit but create an intuitive interface between the Core, and anything you wanted to plug in via small thin client room controllers.

    The principle worked perfectly when it worked, all controlled through a web portal, I still have my old Viewsonic V210 tablet and a Symbian phone that could be used to access the system over WiFi or GSN. Media, lighting, Automation and environment most of the later controlled by 9 Pin R232.

    Add to that our efforts to run standard DVD up scaling to HD 720 and it was a pretty good solution. We certainly put a fire up Crestrons Bottom by offering a lot more for a lot less and jacking their kit if we needed to.

    But, as usual to many people with an interest in the status quo and far too many noses put out of joint and not enough money... It was fun stuff though.
    Phil GES