Quick guide to use external Zigbee dongle with iHost and Docker


I figured out how to use Zigbee dongle with Docker running on the Sonoff iHost. And here’s my steps for HA:

ps: I am using Sonoff Dongle-E for the test with Zigbee firmware built by @darkxst (big thx!)
ncp-uart-hw-v7.4.0.0-zbdonglee-115200 (1).gbl (233.7 KB)

  1. Plug in the dongle on the back USB port

  2. Download homeassistant/home-assistant docker

  3. create volume for the docker

  4. Run the docker startup wizard and select the volume you just created, projecting it to /home/user/homeassistant

  5. set network to Host (to avoid wried network issues )

  6. unfold advanced configure, and select the USB dongle, projecting it to the path dev/ttyUSB0

  7. After the landing page, go add ZHA integration and select the dongle, you are off to go

I give it a try with Hue Light and IKEA Dimmer, all work well

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A very imaginative approach but, with all due respect, given HA’s limitations as a docker, this doesn’t make much sense. Everyone uses their own judgement, but I chose HAOS on RPI and I absolutely do not regret it.
My Sonoff Dongle-E arrived yesterday. After a software change, it works in HA with Zigbee and Matter/Thread support. The hours-long and mostly unsuccessful struggle with Matter pairing in iHost is over.
I have already moved everything from iHost to HA and so far I am satisfied. There are glitches, but in general the documentation is much richer as are the possibilities. Before the release of iHost, the marketing people at Sonoff were promising miracles on a stick and I was tempted by them having abandoned the HA idea on a Raspberry Pi. Sure, on the hardware side iHost is really a very good and interesting device, but the software and its development is one big crapshoot. They are simply a small company with big ambitions and they are failing. Now it seems that after a wave of criticism they have given themselves a break and are trying to get a grip.

I am using both, they are different devices for different users/purposes. iHost is not perfect, and so is HA.

HA consumed me - like hundreds of hours in the past year to build up, to fix annoying fatal issues - a recent update doomed my whole zigbee/thread setup. It is painful and burdening to get all the things to work but I somehow still find it fun to play with. And so is iHost.

Another extreme instance is IKEA. It has an oversimplified app with very limited flexibility for automation, like sensors directly binding with lights.

It makes me wonder why I need so many hours to get a sleek dashboard in HA and all the blueprints/scripts/helpers. And iHost then chimed in, that’s the compromised solution, and if I am not happy with it, I still can use 3party platforms for automation.

As for Matter, iHost acts as a bridge and hopefully would get controller support while HA only has the controller feature, their dev has said many times they won’t support Matter bridge (interest conflicts maybe as their paid sub serves similarly). For Apple users that’s fine. But when I want to make a move to Alexa, Google, or smartthings, this is getting annoying.

I think I will continue to use both, and let them do what they are good at. What’s important is to have some fun at least. :wink:

That’s why some people have several cars. Including one for dropping their mother-in-law off at church on Sundays :boom: