How to Install and Configure ‘Ansible’ Automation Tool for IT Management – Part 1

Ansible is an open source, powerful automation software for configuring, managing and deploying software applications on the nodes without any downtime just by using SSH. Today, most of the IT Automation tools runs as a agent in remote host, but ansible just need a SSH connection and Python (2.4 or later) to be installed on the remote nodes to perform it’s action.

Install Ansible in Linux

Install Ansible in Linux

How Ansible Works?

There are many similar automation tools available like Puppet, Capistrano, Chef, Salt, Space Walk etc, but Ansible categorize into two types of server: controlling machines and nodes.

The controlling machine, where Ansible is installed and Nodes are managed by this controlling machine over SSH. The location of nodes are specified by controlling machine through its inventory.

The controlling machine (Ansible) deploys modules to nodes using SSH protocol and these modules are stored temporarily on remote nodes and communicate with the Ansible machine through a JSON connection over the standard output.

Ansible is agent-less, that means no need of any agent installation on remote nodes, so it means there are no any background daemons or programs are executing for Ansible, when it’s not managing any nodes.

Ansible can handle 100’s of nodes from a single system over SSH connection and the entire operation can be handled and executed by one single command ‘ansible’. But, in some cases, where you required to execute multiple commands for a deployment, here we can build playbooks.

Playbooks are bunch of commands which can perform multiple tasks and each playbooks are in YAML file format.

What’s the Use of Ansible

Ansible can be used in IT infrastructure to manage and deploy software applications to remote nodes. For example, let’s say you need to deploy a single software or multiple software to 100’s of nodes by a single command, here ansible comes into picture, with the help of Ansible you can deploy as many as applications to many nodes with one single command, but you must have a little programming knowledge for understanding the ansible scripts.

We’ve compiled a series on Ansible, title ‘Preparation for the Deployment of your IT Infrastructure with Ansible IT Automation Tool‘, through parts 1-4 and covers the following topics.

Part 1: How to Install and Configure Ansible for IT Management in Linux
Part 4: Managing Encrypted YAMAL data with Ansible-Vault

In this article, we will show you how to install ‘Ansible’ on RHEL/CentOS 7/6, Fedora 21-19, Ubuntu 14.10-13.04 and Debian 7/6 systems and also we will go through some basics on how how to manage a server by installing packages, applying updates and much more from basic to pro.

Prerequisites

  1. Operating System: RHEL/CentOS/Fedora and Ubuntu/Debian/Linux Mint
  2. Jinja2: A modern, fast and easy to use stand-alone template engine for Python.
  3. PyYAML: A YAML parser and emitter for the Python programming language.
  4. parmiko: A native Python SSHv2 channel library.
  5. httplib2: A comprehensive HTTP client library.
  6. sshpass: A non-interactive ssh password authentication.

My Environment Setup

Controlling Machine – Ansible
Operating System :	Linux Mint 17.1 Rebecca
IP Address	 :	192.168.0.254
Host-name	 :	tecmint.instrcutor.com
User		 :	tecmint
Remote Nodes
Node 1: 192.168.0.112
Node 2: 192.168.0.113
Node 3: 192.168.0.114

Step 1: Installing Controlling Machine – Ansible

1. Before installing ‘Ansible‘ on the server, let’s first verify the details of the server like hostname and IP Address. Login into server as a root user and execute the below command to confirm system settings that we’re going to use for this setup.

# sudo ifconfig | grep inet
Verify System Details

Verify System Details

2. Once you confirm your system settings, it’s time to install ‘Ansible’ software on the system.

On Ubuntu/Debian/Linux Mint

Here we are going to use official Ansible PPA repository on the system, just run the below commands to add the repository.

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ansible/ansible -y
$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install ansible -y
Add Ansible PPA

Add Ansible PPA

Install Ansible in Ubuntu

Install Ansible in Ubuntu

On RHEL/CentOS/Fedora

Unfortunately, there are no official Ansible repository for RedHat based clones, but we can install Ansible by enabling epel repository under RHEL/CentOS 6, 7 and currently supported fedora distributions.

Fedora users can directly install Ansible through default repository, but if you are using RHEL/CentOS 6, 7, you have to enable EPEL repo.

After configuring epel repository, you can install Ansible using following command.

$ sudo yum install ansible -y

After installed successfully, you can verify the version by executing below command.

# ansible --version
Verify Ansible Version

Verify Ansible Version

Step 2: Preparing SSH Keys to Remote Hosts

4. To perform any deployment or management from the localhost to remote host first we need to create and copy the ssh keys to the remote host. In every remote host there will be a user account tecmint (in your case may be different user).

First let we create a SSH key using below command and copy the key to remote hosts.

# ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C "[email protected]"
Create SSH Key

Create SSH Key

5. After creating SSH Key successfully, now copy the created key to all three remote server’s.

# ssh-copy-id [email protected]
# ssh-copy-id [email protected]
# ssh-copy-id [email protected]
Copy SSH Key Remote Server

Copy SSH Key Remote Server

Copy SSH Key Second Remote Host

Copy SSH Key Second Remote Host

6. After copying all SSH Keys to remote host, now perform a ssh key authentication on all remote hosts to check whether authentication working or not.

$ ssh [email protected]
$ ssh [email protected]
$ ssh [email protected]
SSH Key Authentication

SSH Key Authentication

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Babin Lonston

I'm Working as a System Administrator for last 10 year's with 4 years experience with Linux Distributions, fall in love with text based operating systems.

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50 Responses

  1. sumit kumar chaurasia says:

    Hi ,

    I am trying to create /etc/ansible/hosts file but it is not allowing me to either touch this file or save this file

    [[email protected] ~]# ansible –version
    ansible 2.2.0.0
    config file =
    configured module search path = Default w/o overrides
    [[email protected] ~]# touch /etc/ansible/hosts
    touch: cannot touch ‘/etc/ansible/hosts’: No such file or directory

    when i am doing vim /etc/ansible/hosts it is giving below error whien i am trying to save
    “/etc/ansible/hosts”
    “/etc/ansible/hosts” E212: Can’t open file for writing

    Is this file created by default or we need to create manually

  2. MD says:

    Thanks for this post., I am looking for installation of ansible from the servers which is not exposed to internet. I downloaded the ansible tar.gz from git hub and ran make command but getting error as below
    ansible –version
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “/home/jboss/Ansible/ansible-2.1.1.0/bin/ansible”, line 44, in
    import ansible.constants as C

    I tried adding the env variables like below but again seeing exception
    ANSIBLE=/home/xxx/Ansible/ansible-2.1.1.0
    export PATH=$PATH:$ANSIBLE/bin
    export PYTHONPATH=$ANSIBLE/lib
    export ANSIBLE_LIBRARY=$ANSIBLE/library

    Error:
    ansible:85: DeprecationWarning: BaseException.message has been deprecated as of Python 2.6
    if e.message.endswith(‘ %s’ % sub):
    ERROR! Unexpected Exception: No module named yaml
    the full traceback was:

    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “/home/jboss/Ansible/ansible-2.1.1.0/bin/ansible”, line 81, in
    from ansible.cli.adhoc import AdHocCLI as mycli
    File “/home/jboss/Ansible/ansible-2.1.1.0/lib/ansible/cli/__init__.py”, line 27, in
    import yaml
    ImportError: No module named yaml

    Kindly suggest to prepare install the prerequisites and ansible in my situation

  3. drmarconi says:

    Noticed a possible typo – shouldn’t the prerequisite “parmiko” be “paramiko”? As in python-paramiko package (or pip install paramiko)?

  4. Nakul says:

    Hi,
    When i tried to copy remote server to ssh, then i got below error.

    ]$ ssh-copy-id 10.247.146.163
    /usr/bin/ssh-copy-id: INFO: attempting to log in with the new key(s), to filter out any that are already installed
    /usr/bin/ssh-copy-id: INFO: 1 key(s) remain to be installed — if you are prompted now it is to install the new keys
    [email protected]‘s password:

    Could not chdir to home directory /export/home/akumar3: No such file or directory

    Please suggest.

  5. Erick Bazan says:

    hi, excellent post, just having a doubt here, I’m getting the same error sampada does, I already tried with the user the ssh keys generated, any idea what might be happening? thanks

  6. Sampada Jain says:

    Hi I am trying to set up a ansible lab on azure cloud and trying to get hand on to replace puppet actually.
    But when I m trying to run : [ ansible -m ping web-servers ]
    I am getting a error as : as mentioned below in-between [ ]

    [
    10.1.0.17 | UNREACHABLE! => {
    “changed”: false,
    “msg”: “Failed to connect to the host via ssh.”,
    “unreachable”: true
    }

    ]

    So I tried command : [ ansible -m ping web-servers:2222 ]
    But i am still getting the error as : [ [WARNING]: provided hosts list is empty, only localhost is available ]

    Can somebody help me please

    Thank you
    Sampada

  7. Prince Chaudhary says:

    it was really interesting…

  8. David leatherman says:

    Thanks, very useful for a new user of ansible….

  9. Daniel says:

    Hello. I am trying to setup ansible on my home network for testing and mabey replace puttet if i like anisble.
    BUT! I have copied the key from my anisble host to my test vm, added the ip for my test vm in sudo vim /etc/ansible/hosts under [web-servers]
    but when i am trying to ping the test vm from anisble then i get this message ?

    # ansible -m ping web-servers
    # No hosts matched

  10. kranzella says:

    Excellent, nice job! :)
    Thanks

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