Amit Kumar Sanu & Akash Sunil Raut

Get Introduced to Ansible

By Amit Kumar Sanu & Akash Sunil Raut

Last updated cal_iconJuly 17, 2021

Ansible is an open-source IT engine which automates the IT tools such as intra service orchestration, application deployment, cloud provisioning, etc.

Why We Use Ansible

Most Important reasons for using Ansible :

  • Free to everyone
  • Ansible is agentless
  • Ansible is extremely steady and lightweight, and no requirements in regards to the working framework or basic equipment are available.
  • It is extremely secure because of its agentless capacities and open SSH security highlights.
  • Ansible does not require any special system administrator or technical skills to install and use it.
  • Ansible has a smooth expectation to learn and adapt controlled by the exhaustive documentation and simple to learn design and setup.
  • Its measured quality with respect to plugin, inventories, modules, and playbooks make Ansible amazing friends arrange enormous conditions.

Significant terms utilized in Ansible

Here are some significant terms which are utilized in Ansible, for example,

Ansible ServerIt is a machine where Ansible is introduced and from which all errands and playbooks will be executed. 
ModulesIt is a cmd or set of similar cmds which is executed on the client-side.Ansible connected the nodes and applied the Ansible modules programs. Ansible executes the modules and removes them after completing. These modules can reside on any machine; no database or servers like things are required for this. We can work with any text editor or version control system  or a terminal to keep track of the changes in the content. 
TaskA task is defined as what action we want to perform or execute.
RoleIt is a method of organizing tasks and related files to be subsequently called in a playbook.
FactData gathered about the target node.
InventoryA file which has the data related to the Ansible client-server or we can say that it is a list of nodes or hosts having their IP addresses, servers, databases, etc. which are required to be managed.
PlayExecution of the playbook.
HandlerIt is like normal tasks in an ansible playbook used to indicate something but they run only when the Task contains a “notify” directive. It also indicates that it changed something. For example it is useful for secondary actions that might be required after running a Task. 
NotifierThe section is attributed to a task which calls a handler if the output is changed.

It is used to specify the task or group by giving an identifying name.
Hosts are the node systems which are automated by Ansible machines like RedHat, Linux, Windows, etc that can be whichever flavour you like.

How Ansible Works?

Ansible works by establishing connections with your master & slave nodes and pushing out a little script program called “Ansible Modules” to them. Ansible then, at that point executes these modules on SSH by default and eliminates them when finished. Your library of modules can dwell on any machine, and there are no workers/servers, daemons, or databases required.

Please refer to the picture -> The management node in the picture is the controlling node. Basically it is the master node which controls the entire execution of the playbook whatever script is written in it. It is the node from which we are running the installation. The inventory file provides the list of hosts to which you have to connect where the Ansible modules need to be run and the management node establishes a SSH connection and executes the small modules on the hosts machine and installs the product or software whatever instructed in the script of the playbook task.

Magnificence of Ansible is that it eliminates the modules once those are installed so adequately it associates with the host machine , executes the instructions and if it’s effectively installed eliminates the code which was replicated on the host machine which was executed.

Ansible Architecture

The Ansible orchestration engine talks with a user who is scripting the Ansible playbook to implement the Ansible orchestration and interact with the services of private or public cloud and configuration management databases. 

Installation Process

There are two types of machines when we go for deployment −

  • Control machine − It is a Machine which controls and manages other machines.
  • Remote machine − It is a target machine which is controlled or managed  by a control machine.

One control machine can control or manage multiple remote machines. As a result, we must install Ansible on the control machine in order to manage remote machines.


  1. PyYAML: This is the YAML parser and emitter for the python language.
  2. Httplib2: A library which is comprehensive for HTTP clients.
  3. parmiko: SSHv2 protocol library for Python.
  4. Distro: RHEL/ CentOS/ Debian/ Ubuntu Linux.
  5. Jinja2: It is a python framework which helps us for templating.
  6. sshpass: a non-interactive ssh password authentication.

Point to keep in mind

Ansible can be used on any computer that has Python installed.

Note − Windows does not support control machine

By default, Ansible uses ssh to manage remote machines.

Ansible does not add any database. It may be started and stopped without the use of any daemons. Ansible does not leave any software installed or running on remote devices while managing them. As a result, while upgrading to a new version, there is no need to worry about how to upgrade it.

Install Ansible on Centos/RedHat systems

Step 1) Install EPEL repo 

$ sudo yum install epel-release

Step 2) Install ansible package

$ sudo  yum install -y ansible

Install ansible on Ubuntu/Debian systems

Step 1) Perform an update to the packages 

$ sudo apt-get update

Step 2) Install the software-properties-common package

$ sudo apt install software-properties-common

Step 3) Install ansible personal package archive

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ansible/ansible

Step 4) Install ansible

$ sudo apt install ansible


Step 1 : Create at least two EC2 instances and launch one for control/master  and another as remote/slave/node whatever you want to say. You can create n numbers of instances as node/slave

Step2 : Select one instance as master and check the prerequisite  and here i am using Linux2 AMI instance.

$ sudo amazon-linux-extras install epel

Now in next step install the ansible

 Step3 : $ sudo amazon-linux-extras install ansible2

-> Check the version $ ansible –version   All set open other remote servers aside and now we take the controls of slave servers on master with passwordless authentication

Passwordless Authentication 

We generate the ssh key on master and we will copy this generated key and paste it in the slave server’s authorized key file.

Step 4 : Generate the key on master by running cmd  

$ ssh-keygen

-> move to the master’s server .ssh directory , here  you will find the file open it  and get the generated key

$ cd .ssh

$ nano  open the file and copy the key

-> now move to the slave/remote-host server and open the $ cd .ssh directory and paste the copied key of master in the slave server’s authorized_key file. Donjo

       Open  it  by running cmd $ nano authorized_key  paste and save CTRL + S

Step 5  : Now master have the control of slave for checking it run cmd 

$ ssh <public_ip of slave server>  on master

Here in my case  $ssh ec2-user@ip-172-31-42-232 After hitting enter you will get the control of slave on master, the terminal interface of slave will be open inside the master terminal as implemented in the screenshot.

Here in screenshot left one is slave server and right one is master server which is having the access of the slave server, you can check next src that is easy to understand.

Step 6: We can change the hostname for readability just run cmd 

$ sudo hostnamectl set-hostname slave


You can use ansible to make changes in the number of machines using a list or group which is nothing but inventory.

Once you have defined the inventory you can use patterns to select the hosts and groups on which you want to perform actions. The default path for inventory is a file called /etc/ansible/hosts. you can also create your own inventory file and specify it in command using -i <inventory file>

But we will not disturb default inventory, we will create our own inventory.

Step 7 : First create a directory here in my case i am creating OWN directory

And inside it create inventory.txt file and write info of the slave host server.

Inside we put the public ip of the servers which we want to have control and here we can make groups also.

Let check our inventory is working or not by running the ad_hoc cmd that is our next topic

$ ansible slave -m ping -i inventory.txt

 -> After doing all setup with inventory setup lets get aware with playbook and also how ansible works

Step 8: Now we will implement the installation of nginx for that we write one playbook in the yml file before this lets nginx be installed on our slave server or not.

Run the cmd    $ yum install list | grep nginx


  $ ps -ef | grep nginx

So we don’t have nginx on our slave server. 

Step 9: Let write the playbook for nginx installation and save it

->  Now run playbook cmd 

    $ ansible-playbook var.yml -i /home/ec2-user/own/inventory.txt

-> it’s time to check whether our nginx is installed on our slave server not.

Note – Just go through the playbook screenshots which will to understand and imagine then we will start Ansible Playbook

Ansible Playbook

There are two ways to run ansible

  1. Imperative way

            In Imperative way we use ansible commands to perform task


                         ansible host_name -m module


Ad_hoc Command

Ad-hoc commands are declarative ways to run ansible tasks. to perform all actions it uses the “/usr/bin/ansible” binary. One disadvantage of ad_hoc is not reusable.

Ad-hoc commands are best for tasks we want to execute once. For example, if we want to check whether a given user is available or not, or anything which smallest one line task then we can use the Ansible Quick One liner cmd without writing a playbook

General Syntax of ad-hoc command:

ansible | [pattern] | -m [module] | -a “[module options]”

   A       |     B        |       C           |            D

There are four parts of the ad-hoc command and the details are below.


|    Details      |                   Description                           |


|ansible                  |                A command                                               |

|pattern                  | Input the entire inventory or a specific group      |

|module                 | Run the given module name                                   |

|module options   | Specify the module arguments                               |


Ansible Ad Hoc commands

Following are some important ad hoc commands

  1. ansible ad hoc command for ping

ansible node -m ping -i inventory.txt

  1. ansible ad hoc command for Transfering files

ansible node -m copy -a “src=home/ubuntu/file.txt dest=/home/file.txt” -i inventory.txt

  1. ansible ad hoc command to check the service status

ansible node -m service -a “name=httpd” -i inventory.txt

  1. Check if package is installed and update it

Ansible node -m yum -a “name=httpd state=latest”

  1. How to check the free memory or memory usage of  hosts using ansible adc_hoc cmd

ansible node -a “free -m” -i inventory.txt

  1. ad hoc command to Start the service

# To Start 

ansible node1 -m service -a ‘name=httpd state=started’ -i inventory.txt

  1. ad hoc command to reboot the remote system

ansible all -m reboot -a reboot_timeout=3600 -i inventory.txt -b

  1. Check if package is s specific version

ansible node -m yum -a “name=httpd1.8 state=latest”

  1. Check if package is not installed

ansible node -m yum -a “name= httpd state= absent”

  1.   run command with sudo

              ansible -i hosts host1 -m shell -a “cat /etc/sudoers” –sudo

  1.   Provide Privileges

  ansible slave -m shell -a ‘fdisk -l’ -u amitsanu –become -K

  1. Declarative way

In declarative way we use playbooks to perform tasks

Syntax to run playbook

             ansible-playbook playbookfile.yaml 

ansible-playbook playbook_file.yaml -i inventory_file.txt


Some Ansible Playbook Examples

Example 1: Ansible Ping module

We use ping module to check connectivity between Ansible controller and host

If the connection is successful the result would reply with pong

Below is the playbook and result to check connectivity

Example 2: Ansible Command module 

Playbook for Command module

Command module: This module is used to execute command on host machine 

                                You can execute any commands using this module


Example 3: Ansible Copy module 

Playbook for Copy module

Copy module: This module is used to copy file/data from ansible controller to host machines

                        Core part is src and dest 

Task :

Copy file from Ansible Controller to the host machine


To verify login to host and check file 

Example 4: Ansible Script module 

Playbook for Script module

Script module: This module is used to run scripts on host machine

Task :

Create script file on ansible controller and use script module to run those script on host


Example 5: Ansible Variable 

Playbook for Variable

Variable: Like variables in programming language, ansible variables are used to store particular data


Example 6: Create a directory with the mode

Playbook for Variable

Task :

Create folder/ file and use mode to modify permissions of folder/file


Example 7: Ansible Loop

We use loop when you want to perform repetitive task

You can use with_items statement to create multiple directories with one single task only

Playbook for loop

In this example we are creating loop to create multiple directories


Example 8 : Create a dynamic file based on the current date

Playbook to create a dynamic file based on the current date


Example 9 : Docker Installation using ansible

Playbook for docker installation

In above playbook we have used different types of modules to perform tasks

  1. Command module : This module is used to run command on host machine
  2.  Service module : This module is used to start, stop and restart the service on host machine

Tasks Included in docker installation playbook

Task 1: Update Repository using command module

Task 2: Install docker using command module

Task 3: Start docker service using service module


When the playbook run successfully check the version of docker to verify installation on host machine

Example 10: nginx Installation using ansible 

Playbook for nginx installation

In above playbook we have used different types of modules to perform tasks

  1. apt module : This module is used to install particular package/tool
  2. notify module : This module is used to notify the installation completion
  3. Service module: This module is used to start, stop and restart the service on host machine

Tasks Included in docker installation playbook

Task 1: Install nginx using apt module

Task 2: Start service service using service module


When the playbook run successfully check the version of nginx to verify installation on host machine

Example 11 : Copy content to a file using the copy module.

Example 12 : Java Installation

-> Result

Example 13 Playbook for Gathering facts

Example 14  Conditional Playbook


Ansible Vault is a feature that permits you to maintain all of your secret safe and you can encrypt the secret files. Ansible Vault is fundamentally valuable when you need to store classified information. To encrypt your secret documents in ansible we utilize a utility called ansible-vault.

Creating New Encrypted Files

$ ansible-vault  create   vault.yml

    -> open the file $nano vault.yaml you will get content of file in the encrypted form

Encrypt the Existing file

The ansible-vault encrypt command can be used to encrypt existing files. You’ll be prompted for your vault password twice. That’s all; we can now encrypt existing files in this manner.

$ ansible-vault encrypt abc.yaml

Display(view) the content of encrypted files

$ ansible-vault view abc.yml

Editing Encrypted Files

$ ansible-vault edit abc.yml

Decrypt the Encrypted Files

$ ansible-vault decrypt abc.yml

Changing the Password of Encrypted Files

$ ansible-vault rekey abc.yml

Ansible Roles

Roles give a structure for collections of variables, tasks, files, templates, and modules that are totally independent, or interdependent.

The role is the primary mechanism for splitting a playbook into multiple files in Ansible. This makes it easy for writing complex playbooks, and it makes them reusable

Let’ s see how to implement roles in ansible

Step 1 : First of all install the tree package in your system, tree cmd shows the hierarchy of the directories. 

  $ sudo yum install tree -y

  And after that run simply $ tree . Now create the directories for Roles implementations. We have to create the playbook inside it roles inside it webserver and inside it tasks

Just run one cmd directories will be created in one hit

$ mkdir -p playbook/roles/webserver/tasks

And inside tasks create one main.yml file and check hierarchy

Inside main.yml write the tasks (here in my case i am writing the httpd installation) and save it

-> create one master.yml inside playbook directory with roles directory .

-> we already have httpd in our slave server so let remove from there

-> Now run the master by hitting the cmd

      $ ansible-playbook master.yml -i /home/ec2/own/inventory.txt

-> it time to check the httpd on the slave server whether it got installed or not.

-> Voila

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