Getting Started with Ansible: A Beginner's Guide

Welcome to the exciting world of Ansible! If you're new to this powerful automation platform, you're in for a treat. Ansible can help you streamline your IT operations, improve your deployment process, and automate repetitive tasks.

But where do you start? How do you get up and running with Ansible? Never fear, dear reader, for this beginner's guide will take you through the basics of Ansible step-by-step. From installing Ansible to writing your first playbook, we've got you covered.

So, sit back, relax, and let's get started with Ansible.

What is Ansible?

Before we dive into Ansible's installation and usage, let's start with the basics. What is Ansible, exactly?

In a nutshell, Ansible is an open source automation platform that helps you automate IT tasks. Whether you need to deploy applications, configure servers, or manage network devices, Ansible can help you do it faster and more efficiently.

Ansible uses a simple, declarative language called YAML to describe your infrastructure and application deployments. This makes it easy to understand and maintain your automation code.

One of the key benefits of Ansible is its scalability. Whether you're managing a single server or thousands of servers across multiple data centers, Ansible can handle the job. Ansible uses a clientless architecture, which means you don't need to install any agents or daemons on your target hosts. This makes it lightweight and easy to use.

Overall, Ansible is a powerful tool for IT automation that can help you save time and minimize errors.

Installing Ansible

Now that you know what Ansible is, it's time to install it. Ansible can run on a wide variety of platforms, including Linux, macOS, and Windows.

Installing Ansible on Linux

If you're using Linux, you can install Ansible using your distribution's package manager. For example, if you're using Ubuntu, you can install Ansible using the following command:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ansible

If you're using another distribution, consult their documentation for specific installation instructions.

Installing Ansible on macOS

If you're using macOS, you can install Ansible using Homebrew. First, you need to install Homebrew using the following command:

/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"

Once Homebrew is installed, you can install Ansible using the following command:

brew install ansible

Installing Ansible on Windows

If you're using Windows, you can install Ansible using the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). First, you need to install WSL using the following guide: Windows Subsystem for Linux Installation Guide for Windows 10

Once WSL is installed, you can follow the installation steps mentioned in "Installing Ansible on Linux".

Verifying the Installation

Once Ansible is installed, you can verify the installation by running the following command:

ansible --version

This should output the version of your installed Ansible version.

Configuring Ansible

Before you can start using Ansible, you need to configure it.

The main configuration file for Ansible is located at /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg. This file contains various settings for Ansible, such as the location of your inventory file and the default user for SSH connections.

One important setting in ansible.cfg is the location of your inventory file. The inventory file is used to specify the hosts you want to manage with Ansible. You can specify the inventory file by adding the following line to your ansible.cfg file:

inventory = /path/to/your/inventory/file

By default, Ansible looks for the inventory file at /etc/ansible/hosts. However, you can specify any file as your inventory file.

You can also configure Ansible with environment variables, which can be useful if you're running Ansible in a container or on a CI/CD server. For example, you can set the location of your inventory file using the ANSIBLE_INVENTORY environment variable:

export ANSIBLE_INVENTORY=/path/to/your/inventory/file

Writing Your First Ansible Playbook

Now that you have Ansible installed and configured, it's time to write your first playbook.

A playbook is a YAML file that describes the tasks you want to perform with Ansible. A task is a single unit of work that Ansible performs, such as installing a package or copying a file.

Let's start with a simple playbook that installs Apache on a single server.

- name: Install Apache
  hosts: webserver
  become: true
    - name: Install Apache
        name: apache2
        state: latest
    - name: Start Apache
        name: apache2
        state: started

Let's break this playbook down line by line.

Running Your Playbook

Now that we have our playbook written, it's time to run it.

To run a playbook, use the ansible-playbook command. Here's how you would run our install-apache.yml playbook:

ansible-playbook install-apache.yml

This tells Ansible to execute the install-apache.yml playbook on all hosts in the webserver group.

You should see output similar to the following:

PLAY [Install Apache] *********************************************************

TASK [Gathering Facts] *********************************************************
ok: []

TASK [Install Apache] **********************************************************
changed: []

TASK [Start Apache] ************************************************************
changed: []

PLAY RECAP ********************************************************************* : ok=3 changed=2 unreachable=0 failed=0 skipped=0 rescued=0 ignored=0

This output tells us that Ansible executed three tasks on the host. Two tasks were changed, meaning that Ansible made changes to the system.

Congratulations, you've just written and executed your first Ansible playbook!


Ansible is a powerful and easy-to-use automation platform that can help you automate your IT tasks. With Ansible, you can manage servers, deploy applications, and automate repetitive tasks with ease.

In this beginner's guide, we've covered the basics of Ansible, from installing and configuring it to writing and executing your first playbook. We hope you found this guide helpful and that it inspired you to explore Ansible further.

Next, you can explore the many modules and plugins available in the Ansible Galaxy, the official library of Ansible content. You can also dive deeper into Ansible's advanced features, such as variable substitution, conditionals, and roles.

Thank you for reading this guide, and happy automating!

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