Essential Ansible Commands Every Sysadmin Should Know

Are you a sysadmin looking to streamline your workflow and automate repetitive tasks? Look no further than Ansible, the open-source automation tool that can help you manage your infrastructure with ease. In this article, we'll cover some essential Ansible commands every sysadmin should know to get started with this powerful tool.

What is Ansible?

Before we dive into the commands, let's briefly go over what Ansible is and how it works. Ansible is a configuration management tool that allows you to automate the deployment and management of your infrastructure. It uses a simple, human-readable language called YAML to define the desired state of your systems. Ansible then executes tasks on your systems to bring them to that desired state.

Ansible is agentless, meaning you don't need to install any software on the systems you want to manage. Instead, Ansible uses SSH to connect to your systems and execute tasks remotely. This makes it easy to manage systems across different platforms and environments.

Essential Ansible Commands

Now that we have a basic understanding of what Ansible is, let's dive into some essential commands.


The ansible-playbook command is the main entry point for executing Ansible playbooks. A playbook is a YAML file that defines a set of tasks to be executed on one or more systems. Playbooks are the heart of Ansible, and they allow you to automate complex tasks and workflows.

To execute a playbook, simply run:

ansible-playbook playbook.yml

Replace playbook.yml with the name of your playbook file. Ansible will read the playbook and execute the tasks defined within it.


The ansible command is used to execute ad-hoc commands on one or more systems. Ad-hoc commands are one-off commands that you want to execute on your systems without creating a playbook.

For example, if you want to check the uptime of all your servers, you can run:

ansible all -m command -a "uptime"

This will execute the uptime command on all systems in your inventory.


Ansible Galaxy is a repository of Ansible roles that you can use to quickly bootstrap your infrastructure. Roles are reusable collections of tasks, files, templates, and variables that you can use to configure your systems.

To install a role from Ansible Galaxy, use the ansible-galaxy command:

ansible-galaxy install username.role

Replace username.role with the name of the role you want to install. Ansible Galaxy will download the role and install it in your roles directory.


Ansible Vault is a tool for encrypting sensitive data in your playbooks and inventory files. This can include passwords, API keys, and other sensitive information that you don't want to store in plain text.

To encrypt a file with Ansible Vault, use the ansible-vault command:

ansible-vault encrypt file.yml

Replace file.yml with the name of the file you want to encrypt. Ansible Vault will prompt you for a password to use for encryption.

To edit an encrypted file, use the ansible-vault edit command:

ansible-vault edit file.yml

This will open the file in your default text editor and prompt you for the encryption password.


The ansible-doc command is a handy tool for quickly looking up documentation for Ansible modules. Modules are the building blocks of Ansible tasks, and they provide a way to interact with your systems.

To look up documentation for a module, use the ansible-doc command:

ansible-doc module_name

Replace module_name with the name of the module you want to look up. Ansible will display the documentation for the module in your terminal.


Ansible Pull is a way to run Ansible playbooks on your systems without needing a central control node. Instead, each system pulls the playbook from a Git repository and executes it locally.

To use Ansible Pull, create a Git repository with your playbook and inventory files. Then, on each system you want to manage, run:

ansible-pull -U git_repository_url

Replace git_repository_url with the URL of your Git repository. Ansible will pull the latest version of your playbook and execute it locally.


The ansible-console command is an interactive shell for executing Ansible tasks. It provides a way to quickly test and debug your playbooks and ad-hoc commands.

To start the Ansible console, run:


This will open the console in your terminal. You can then execute tasks and ad-hoc commands as you would in a regular terminal.


These are just a few of the essential Ansible commands every sysadmin should know. With Ansible, you can automate repetitive tasks, manage your infrastructure with ease, and free up time for more important work. So why not give it a try? Your future self will thank you.

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