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  • Virtualization and OS recommendtions for HouseLinc

    When I first got Insteon I picked it because it had a great tool (HouseLinc) to manage links and debug communications issues. I received no warning that Insteon planned to take that tool away.

    I need to set up a virtual machine environment that I can back up and preserve to run houselinc.

    What is the best version of Windows for this?
    And what is the best hypervisor VM software? I'm partial to kvm/libvirt on a linux host, but I'm interested to hear what works for other users.

    Should I try to pass through the PLM's USB device to the VM or is it sufficient to merely pass through it's serial port so the guest OS sees it as COM B or whatnot without any USB involved?
    If I pass it through as just a serial object, can I concurrently use it with software running on the physical host? OR share it with other VMs?

  • #2
    The PML interfaces the computer with the powerline. That's the only way HoueLinc can manage Insteon devices. There was a USB PLM that interfaced with Insteon devices via RF, but that, too, is no longer available.
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    • #3
      ok. So What is the best version of Windows for Houselinc?

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      • #4
        I've used HL with XP. 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. No discernible differences. Finally gave up on HL after many new devices were no longer supported. If you have only older device and none will ever fail and you won't ever want a device that didn't exist when support was discontinued, then stay with it. I'm not saying the each and every new device is not supported, I am saying that, as time passes, they won't be.
        Stu's Views is Education and Fun. What do YOU want to VIEW today?
        MathLandia High school mathematics learning fun.
        Both Stu's Views and MathLandia are free websites that do not sell anything.
        Saving energy is not always free. Be a world saver.

        Please don't PM with questions that can be asked in a forum.

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        • #5
          It sounds like you're discouraging the use of houselinc. So, what replacement software do you recommend?

          Have you used virtualization with houselinc before? (Running houselins on a windows VM, hosted on a osx or linux machine?)

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          • #6
            Yes, I am discouraging the use of HouseLinc. I also discourage the use of IBM DOS, MS-DOS, TRS-80 and 5 1/4" floppy disks and both the Apple I and Apple II
            Stu's Views is Education and Fun. What do YOU want to VIEW today?
            MathLandia High school mathematics learning fun.
            Both Stu's Views and MathLandia are free websites that do not sell anything.
            Saving energy is not always free. Be a world saver.

            Please don't PM with questions that can be asked in a forum.

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            • #7
              Houselinc is dead and gone. There really isn't any reason to continue using it unless you fall into the categories that Stusviews said your expending unnecessary energy to keep it running.

              My favorite controller (Stusviews will probably concur) is the ISY994. There are others such as indigo, homeseer, castleOs and more.

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              • #8
                I was asking Stusviews what replacement software he recommended, since 'Houselinc is dead' isn't at all valid to say unless there is a clear successor to replace it. His comparisons to a bunch of products from the 90's that *have* had clear successors that rendered them obsolete is moot because its not clear what the successor to houselinc actually is.

                I don't use houselinc for sending commands, but for programming devices (setting attributes on micros, motion sensors, default "on levels"), managing links (finding half links, checking that the links I expect are present) and "deprecated" or not, Houselink excels at that, in 2018. It sure as heck beats pressing little buttons and running across the house to press another button, and then hoping you never forget what's linked to what.

                I've got a micasaverde/vera that says it can do Insteon if I hook up my PLC. One of my objectives is to add the ability to hit an insteon keypadlink button and start a macro on some multi-protocol hub that involves a number of zwave devices and my sonos, maybe nest thermostat too, and vera claims to be able to tie all that together. I've done it all on vera except adding insteon to the equation. But I don't think vera has any concept of creating links in the insteon sense.

                I like the aesthetic of the Insteon keypadlinks, but I do not think it wise to buy any more insteon product at this point. I worry about Insteon's future way more than that of zwave, and their abandonment of HouseLinc is certainly a part of that. So I need a hub solution that can support both insteon and zwave. I also have a truckload of X10 motion sensors I'd like to be able to use since i already have them to kick off macros in the hub and every other brand's motion sensor is so much more expensive.

                ISY falls short of supporting nest and sonos I think. Their sales support told me that they flat out intend to never support Nest because the believe they are not permitted to support Nest. And ISY doesn't seem like they have a 'community library' of plugins like vera. It's too bad. Because reading about ISY got me pretty excited to order one. It 'feels' like the right solution, but I don't want to gamble on it, and I think the way zwave associations work, I could only realistically have one hub at a time handle zwave devices.

                I don't really want something that I have to leave a big old pc online to run like indigo, and boooo osx.

                Homeseer, I had heard of before, but seemed really immature then. Maybe I was remembering MisterHouse. I'll have to circle back on homeseer again. and I will have to look into castleOs too. What do you think about OpenHAB?

                I've got a couple low power (<10w) x86 gnu/linux systems that i do keep online 24x7 and I think they would be a great host for software like this. I have significant experience in gnu sysadmin and software development. I'm not going to purport to be willing/able to design a product like one of those from scratch, myself. But I have written programs to automate x10 events on several occasions with CM11a and 15As, and the reason I first bought the Insteon PLM I have today was to control a couple modules directly over serial, then as my network of insteon devices grew, I found out about houselinc at a later point, and it was the clear solution for setting up, and checking the many thousands of links between various devices necessary to keep the various status leds in sync with the status of the controlled loads.

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                • #9
                  The ISY can be used with virtually anything. I have mine connected to my RTI system which also works with my AV system. While my ecobee3s are not connected to my ISY, they can be if I choose too.

                  There are many people using the ISY with Sonos and Nest. UDI chooses not to officially support nest due to requirements that Google has which would take away more from the ISY than what it adds. But again, it can be done.

                  No software/controller is perfect. That goes for every single system out there. There are downsides to all of them. Even if you switch over to zwave, you will find imperfections that you will not like. From using a multitude of Controllers, I have settled on the ISY because it gives me the best capabilities for the cost. Are there things it lacks?....of course, but it also made me be more open to novel ways (in some cases better) of accomplishing what I want.

                  I am not a fan of openhab. It works well but just isn't my cup of tea. In the end as with any controller, it comes down to personal preference.

                  Insteon didn't simply abandon houselinc. They discontinued it years ago when they changed their focus to the hubs as that is where their consumer base was. The ISY was in full swing and they really had no hope of bringing a product to market that could compete with it. Maybe that will change in the future but as for now, houselinc was/is a relic of a time that has been surpassed.

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                  • #10
                    There is no equivalent to HouseLinc (HL). It was a great product, had a wealth of features including diagnostics that no other Insteon manager has, such as finding and repairing half-links. Also the ability to create events (simple programs).

                    I reluctantly switched over to the ISY, coincidentally a few months before support for HL was dropped. At that time, there was nothing I needed to create that HL couldn't do (i.e., Events). Actually, I used both HL and the ISY concurrently, making the transition slowly, modifying HL as new products were introduced until it became clear that HL was on it's way out. I reluctantly gave up on HL.

                    The Insteon Hub was/is not a replacement for HL. The Hub was meant for an entirely differently market, the smartphone set who wants a simple solution for home automation (HA). No conditionals, no diagnostics, just an easy to set up Insteon manager. The Hub fills a niche that didn't exist and unless you want/need such a simple device, and I don't believe you do, then I would discourage the Hub, too.

                    The ISY is one of the most powerful Insteon managers available. There are also very capable software solutions, but those require that a computer be powered on 24/7 and are tied to a particular OS.

                    The primary purpose of my HA network is lighting, but there's much more that I'd like to be able to control. As much as possible, I prefer Insteon (that's a whole other discussion), but as my HA network expanded, it became clear that if I wanted what met my desires, I'd have to expand to other products. For example, my wife loves the ability to open the driveway gate and, subsequently, her garage door by pressing a button on the rear view mirror. (Insteon is also used from within our home, but the mirror even more convenient from the driver's seat.)

                    I had Insteon thermostats in each zone, but Ecobee provided even more control, so I went with that instead. Did I give up some control? Yes, but I gained a lot more using an Alexa skill. I'd guess that you might find a similar advantage with Nest. As lilyoyo1 indicated, there's probably no HA system that provides 100% of what you want, except maybe, hand-crafted.

                    I've done some coding, but as I look around at what I need/want, there's way too much to be done--including trouble-shooting--to take that route. So, I compromised, giving up a bit to gain a lot.

                    Returning to thermostats, I wouldn't try to design my HA network based on what a thermostat can do, but rather the other way, which is which thermostat best fits my HA.
                    Stu's Views is Education and Fun. What do YOU want to VIEW today?
                    MathLandia High school mathematics learning fun.
                    Both Stu's Views and MathLandia are free websites that do not sell anything.
                    Saving energy is not always free. Be a world saver.

                    Please don't PM with questions that can be asked in a forum.

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                    • #11
                      I find home seer to be pretty good at adapting to what ever you throw at it , but its expensive and you need a dedicated machine for it. Stu and lilyoyo1 are both correct about the isy.
                      Maybe Insteon will come out with that more powerful hub with alljoyn, but haven't heard anything lately about it.

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                      • #12
                        Runs fine on Server 2016 virtualized in Hyper-V, using an older hub as the bridge to an Insteon network. I use it for programming all of the keypads and such mostly, and a bit of diagnosis, no scheduled events or anything. It'll eventually be replaced by an ISY or similar at some point, but until then, keeps working great. I would expect it to run fine on either ESXi or Hyper-V without issue.

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                        • #13
                          I am new to the forum and annoyed with Houselinc. I just recently bought a new 2413U hub (5 year old one died) to control 10 insteon lighting devices and now I have issues. I reverted back to 2.9.85 on this link:

                          http://www.insteon.com/support-knowl...selinc-windows

                          And even thought the results in my Houselinc Events file show some devices failing, it seems to be working. Another fix I put in place was to do each event twice 5 minutes apart. So turn on evening lights, then 5 minutes later, do it again. However the software is not working well with the 2413U hub. Unplugging and replugging the hub in seems to make it work for a bit.

                          My questions to the experienced folks on this forum:
                          1) what software does Insteon want us to use with the 2413U new hub? ISY seems expensive and complex.
                          2) Has anyone used HCA - Home Control Assistant for $80? Looks complex to setup also.

                          I can't believe that Insteon doesn't make a simple Windows interface like Houselinc to control lights. Unbelievable.

                          thanks in advance.

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                          • #14
                            The 2413u is a plm not hub. Insteon doesnt care what software you use at that would be individual preference. They do make a simple interface. Its called the insteon hub. Most smart device users want to use their phones to control their devices. While it sucks for users who want to use their computer, they went with where the market turned to.

                            I havent personally used HCA. I do use the ISY994 and nothing comes close to it in my opinion. I have tried many different controllers and software. I must say, I have found that you get what you pay for.

                            Most insteon fans use either the ISY, Homeseer, or the Insteon 2245-222 hub (for simplicity and basic timers). There are others such as CastleOS, Indigo (for mac users), HCA (as you already know), openhab, etc.

                            If you have simple on/off timers, then I would say the hub may be sufficient. If you need any logic based programming, then you would want to use something else

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jec6613 View Post
                              Runs fine on Server 2016 virtualized in Hyper-V, using an older hub as the bridge to an Insteon network. I use it for programming all of the keypads and such mostly, and a bit of diagnosis, no scheduled events or anything. It'll eventually be replaced by an ISY or similar at some point, but until then, keeps working great. I would expect it to run fine on either ESXi or Hyper-V without issue.
                              Topic is worthy

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