[clug] X10 Home Automation + Linux (Windows review)

Jsparksaa at cs.com Jsparksaa at cs.com
Fri Sep 2 16:39:25 GMT 2005

Matt and all,

  I bought an X10 kit from CompUSA more than a few years ago. The kit included a serial controller that plugged into a wall outlet on one side and a serial port on the PC. The kit also includes some lamp and appliance (USA three-prong outlet) modules and it included software to program and control the units including on/off swithes and timers.  I have not seen a kit in a retail store for many years now. I ran it under Win 95 through Win XP with varying degrees of success. My first comment is to be sure to use a temporary email account if you deal with X10, as they will remember you for the rest of your life, and they will send you a daily e-mail imploring you to purchase the lastest product NOW BEFORE THIS OFFER EXPIRES.  So much for my pet peeve against X10.

 At first, I really liked the software: it was really neat to use. You could setup timers to control devices with a great deal of flexibility.  For example, I like to program lights to turn on and off in the morning  and separately to turn on and off in the evening.  Weekeds are programed differently than weekdays.  With a separate remote control, the same devices can be turned on and off.  The lamp modules allow you to dim connected lights.

  But, the software was NOT always stable.  It may have worked for months and something would change, breaking the software.  I last tried to use the software in Feburary this year, and my Win XP machine locked up completely.    This machine is normally exceptionarily stable.  I was able to control some devices for about an hour or so before it stopped working, and I was not able to determine the source of the problems.  At that time, X10 had not released a new version of the software for quite a while and I am not sure that the software fully supported XP.  

  But enough of Windows!  I am running Suse Pro 9.1 and SLES and the third machine on a home network.  I have been running Suse Pro for a little more than a year and I just installed SLES after a Win XP Home machine crashed.  I replaced a Drive and restored the system from a Ghost image and when I restarted the machine, I was prompted to activate the product.  I could not complete the activation process and I had been wanting to convert the machine to Linux, so I went ahead and installed SLES.

  I use Crossover (wine with GUI) on Suse Pro and I am curious about the X10 software and wine.  I have just looked at the X10 site and I see that they have released a new "Pro" product with USB support.  The old product was great (meaning really neat) when it worked and it was a real piece of Sh_t when it did not work.  I would love to try (before I buy) the new product under wine.  

  I am also very interested in native linux products to control X10 devices.

  Lastly,  currently I do not use any X10 software, but I do use a programmable X10 controller.  Each device has two sets of controls, for example, morning on/off and evening on/off, light dimmers and an LED clock.  It does not have the flexibility of the software, so different days cannot be programmed differently.

Have fun with the devices.


"Matt Smith" <Matt at Coolchilli.com> wrote:

>Hi All,
>I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with X10 home automation
>style products, and their interaction with Linux?
>I'm looking into some retro-fit units from www.eon3.com.au (see links
>below), and they have a url which points to some free software for it's
>control (http://heyu.tanj.com/heyu2/index.html).  The prices don't seem too
>bad for the hardware; providing it works as documented, it seems like
>something that would be fun and should in theory be quite easy to interact
>with a PC + linux in a realtime situation.
>If anyone can share their experience with either X10 (or similar) and linux,
>or any good/bad feedback from eon3 it would be appreciated.
>The products i'm looking at playing with:
>Basic starter setup (PC interface, lamp and appliance module, cable, windoze
>Bayonet light kit (bayonet light fitting, RF transceiver interface, remote
>Thanks, and appreciate any feedback/experience people have to offer,
>linux mailing list
>linux at lists.samba.org

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