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by Hagai Kariti | August 26, 2014

ansible-exec: ansible-playbook wrapper for executing playbooks

Ansible is a great automation tool. We use it for server provisioning, application deployments and running maintenance scripts. One problem it does have however, is how (in)convenient it is to run playbooks as opposed to regular shell scripts. Write and run enough Ansible playbooks, and eventually you’ll get tired of the repetitive typing your fingers have to do.

Take for example a sample playbook.yml file. If you need to specify an inventory file and some variables, you can end up with:

ansible-playbook playbook.yml -i hosts -e var1=val1 -e var2=val2

And if you use vault it can be even longer:

ansible-playbook playbook.yml -i hosts -e var1=val1 -e var2=val2 –vault-pswd-file ~/vault-pass

These commands are pretty long, and kind of make you want to run them as seldom as you can. To avoid this unhelpful sentiment, I wrote ansible-exec  – a wrapper around ansible-playbook.

With ansible-exec you can do these:

# Define variables like normal cli arguments ./playbook.yml -i hosts --var1=value --var2=value2  # Run localhost playbooks with an empty inventory ./localhost_playbook.yml --var1=value  # Pass other ansible-playbook options after a double-dash ./playbook.yml -i hosts -- --tags myapp

Just like normal scripts. Less to remember, less to type and one more reason to prefer an Ansible playbook to a bash script.

To install ansible-exec:

git clone cd ansible-exec make install

To use, put this shebang line as the first line in your playbook:


And chmod a+x.

The script itself sits in /usr/local/bin and has a small config file in /etc/ansible/ansible-exec.conf. The config file is there to change some default behaviors:

  • By default, if no inventory file is specified via -i , ansible-exec will generate a dummy inventory. You can override this with the DEFAULT_INVENTORY variable.
  • You can add other ansible-playbook options that should always be passed in the ANSIBLE_PLAYBOOK_ARGS array.


Hagai Kariti

Hagai works in Operations at BigPanda.