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Ansible – some random useful things. | David Goodwin

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Clipped on: 2015-06-23

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Ansible – some random useful things.

Some random useful things for Ansible users:


inventory_hostname‘ contains the name of the current node being worked on…. (as in, what it is defined in your hosts file as) so if you want to skip a task for a single node –

- name: Restart amavis
  service: name=amavis state=restarted
  when: inventory_hostname != "boris"

(Don’t restart Amavis for boris,  do for all others).

You could also use :

  when: inventory_hostname not in groups['group_name']

if your aim was to (perhaps skip) a task for some nodes in the specified group.


Need to check whether you need to reboot for a kernel update?

  1. If /vmlinuz doesn’t resolve to the same kernel as we’re running
  2. Reboot
  3. Wait 45 seconds before carrying on…
- name: Check for reboot hint.
  shell: if [ $(readlink -f /vmlinuz) != /boot/vmlinuz-$(uname -r) ]; then echo 'reboot'; else echo 'no'; fi
  ignore_errors: true
  register: reboot_hint

- name: Rebooting ...
  command: shutdown -r now "Ansible kernel update applied"
  async: 0
  poll: 0
  ignore_errors: true
  when: kernelup|changed or reboot_hint.stdout.find("reboot") != -1
  register: rebooting

- name: Wait for thing to reboot...
  pause: seconds=45
  when: rebooting|changed

Fixing ~/.ssh/known_hosts

Often an ansible script may create a remote node – and often it’ll have the same IP/name as a previous entity. This confuses SSH — so after creating :

- name: Fix .ssh/known_hosts. (1)
  local_action: command  ssh-keygen -f "~/.ssh/known_hosts" -R hostname

If you’re using ec2, for instance, you could do something like :

- name: Fix .ssh/known_hosts.
  local_action: command  ssh-keygen -f "~/.ssh/known_hosts" -R {{ item.public_ip }} 
  with_items: ec2_info.instances

Where ec2_info is your registered variable from calling the ‘ec2′ module.

Debug/Dump a variable?

- name: What's in reboot_hint?
  debug: var=reboot_hint

which might output something like :

"reboot_hint": {
        "changed": true, 
        "cmd": "if [ $(readlink -f /vmlinuz) != /boot/vmlinuz-$(uname -r) ]; then echo 'reboot'; else echo 'no'; fi", 
        "delta": "0:00:00.024759", 
        "end": "2014-07-29 09:05:06.564505", 
        "invocation": {
            "module_args": "if [ $(readlink -f /vmlinuz) != /boot/vmlinuz-$(uname -r) ]; then echo 'reboot'; else echo 'no'; fi", 
            "module_name": "shell"
        "rc": 0, 
        "start": "2014-07-29 09:05:06.539746", 
        "stderr": "", 
        "stdout": "reboot", 
        "stdout_lines": [

Which leads on to —

Want to run a shell command do something with the output?

Registered variables have useful attributes like :

  • changed – set to boolean true if something happened (useful to tell when a task has done something on a remote machine).
  • stderr – contains stringy output from stderr
  • stdout – contains stringy output from stdout
  • stdout_lines – contains a list of lines (i.e. stdout split on \n).

(see above)

- name: Do something
  shell: /usr/bin/something | grep -c foo || true
  register: shell_output

So – we could :

- name: Catch some fish (there are at least 5)
  shell: /usr/bin/somethingelse 
  when: shell_output.stdout > "5"

Default values for a Variable, and host specific values.

Perhaps you’ll override a variable, or perhaps not … so you can do something like the following in a template :

max_allowed_packet = {{ mysql_max_allowed_packet|default('128M') }}

And for the annoying hosts that need a larger mysql_max_allowed_packet, just define it within the inventory hosts file like :

busy-web-server mysql_max_allowed_packet=256M


Posted on August 4, 2014Author David GoodwinCategories linuxTags , , , ,

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