Home assistant: Using a NAS for IOT integration

Now that our home network has been set up with the Synology DS220+ for file serving, I am going to have a go at running home assistant off of it. There are many “smart” devices that are found in the average home these days. The problem with most of them is that they all use separate apps, many of which don’t integrate together very easily. “Smart” homes so often feel like a massive amount of work, which doesn’t feel correct. I love technology, but I want it to make my life easier, not more difficult.

Home assistant is an open source solution to smart home integration that puts the control in the hands of the user. The software runs on your own network, and uses your hardware to do the processing.

There are a few ways to get Home assistant running on your home network. You can use an old PC or laptop, a raspberry pi or, like me, a NAS. There are two ways to get Home assistant running on a Synology NAS, by running it in a docker container or as a virtual machine. Due to a limitation that means that you cannot use add-ons when running Home assistant in a docker container, I will be running it as a VM.

Installing Virtual machine manager (VMM) on Synology NAS

In order to use virtual machines on a Synology NAS you need to install Virtual machine manager. It also helps to have a reasonable amount of RAM, for instance, on my DS220+ I have installed an extra 8GB stick of RAM. This is not officially supported on this NAS, and may invalidate the warranty, but it does work.

  • Look for “Virtual machine manager” in the Synology package manager, and click “install”. The “install” button will change to “open” once the installation is complete.
  • Click the “Open” button to start the VMM.
  • On the welcome screen, click “Next” to begin the setup wizard.
  • The following screen will show the resources available to the virtual machine. This is only for reference, so just click “Next” here.
  • In the “Select Volumes” window you need to select the volume that you want to install your virtual machine on. I am only running one volume at the moment, so there is only one option here. As long as there is a reasonable amount free space on the volume you will be able to use it for your VM. None of the data already stored on the volume will be deleted. Once a suitable volume has been selected, click the “Next” button.
  • Your cluster has now been created.

If everything has worked correctly then there should be a green tick on the screen, with the word “Good” next to it.

Home assistant VM image

Get the Home assistant VM image from here: Installation – Home Assistant (home-assistant.io)

The image that I used was in the Linux section

Image showing Home assistant software installs

Be sure to download the Vmware Workstation (.vmdk) image.

The image will be downloaded to your system as a .zip file. This will need to be extracted before it can be used.

Install the VM on your NAS

Back on the Synology NAS, switch from the “overview” tab in the VMM to the “Images” tab. At the top there are three image types, “ISO file”, “Disk Image” and “DSM Image”. We want to click on “Disk image” here. The click “ADD”.

On the window that follows, click “From Computer”. Then browse to the location of your extracted VM image.

  • Click “Next” to select the storage area on your NAS.
  • Click the “Apply” button to store the image. This may take a while, and you will see changes in the “Status” section.
  • When this processes is completed you should see your image show up in the “Image” section of VMM. The status should show up as “Healthy”.
Home assistant VM image health

Create the VM

Now it’s time to create the Home assistant virtual machine using the image that we just imported.

In the VMM we need to go into the Virtual machine area, by clicking on “Virtual machine” in the sidebar.

This will show us the options for the import method. Here we will want to pick “Import from disk images” and then click the “Next” button.

Next it will ask you to choose the storage volume that you want to use. Select one and click “Next”.

Next, we have to give our VM a name, I went with Home assistant. You are also able to choose the number of CPU(s) and the amount of RAM that is allocated to the VM. I recommend leaving all of these settings as they are by default, you can always make changes to these settings later. Click “Next”.

Enter name for VM (Home assistant)

The next window sets up the virtual hard drive for the VM. Here you can allocate the amount of storage space that you want the VM to have. Home assistant installs are recommended at least 32GB of storage. You can also select your image from the drop down at the top of the window. The cog icon allows you to select the disk controller, I would recommend using the SATA controller. Click “OK” to close the controller window and the “Next” on the specification window.

Select the “Default VM network” option on the following window and click “Next”.

Import

The “Other settings” window has a few options that we need to be mindful of.

  • The two ISO settings can be ignored.
  • AutoStart is a useful setting to change to yes, this means that your Home assistant VM will automatically start when your NAS does. Very useful if you have a power outage.
  • BIOS should be set to UEFI.
  • Keyboard layout can be changed to whatever the default for your region is. I use en-gb.
  • I would set the USB controller to whatever type of ports your NAS has. My DS220+ has only USB 3.0 ports.
  • Keep USB devices unmounted for now. This can be changed later if necessary.

Click the “Next” button.

Import a virtual machine.

Now you can select the users that you want to be able to have access to your virtual machine. I would not recommend allowing the guest user to have access to this. Click the “Next” button.

A summary of your created VM will now be shown. Clicking the checkbox at the bottom of this window will allow for the VM to be started upon completion of the wizard. Unless there are any other settings that you would like to revisit and change, I would check this box now. Click “Apply”.

Running the VM

The status of your VM should now show as running in the VMM Virtual machine section.

The first IP address under the “IP” section is the IP for your Home assistant VM.

Go to homeassistant.local:8123 in your browser to access your HA VM.

Home assistant VM running in Synology VMM.

After a bit of a wait you will see an account creation window. At this point create your account and you will be ready to get into Home assistant and stat taking control of your smart home.

Home assistant account creation.

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