How to Use Ansible

Ansible symbolAnsible is an easy to use automation software that can update a server, configure tasks, manage daily server functions and deploys jobs as needed on a schedule of your choosing. It is usually administered from a single location or control server and uses SSH to connect to the remote servers. Because it employs SSH to connect, it is very secure and, there is no software to install on the servers being managed. It can be run from your desktop, laptop or other platforms to assist with automating the tedious tasks which every server owner faces.

Once it is configured, Ansible performs tasks based on an ordered list of assignments in what is called a Playbook. The Playbook outlines what tasks need to be run on the remote server and in what order. Once this is configured, Ansible acts like a bash for-loop command that allows a section of code to be repeated over and over again. The difference between using a bash command and Ansible is that Ansible is idempotent. The term Idempotent sounds a little scary, but it merely means that you can make the same type of request over and over again and unless something has changed, you will get the same result.

Pre-flight: Server Requirements

Source Server Requirements

Ansible requires the installation of Python 2.7 or Python 3.5 on the source server. The source server is where you will be running the tasks in the playbook for the remote servers. The remote servers receive commands defined in the playbook.  A playbook is a file which defines the scripts that will be run on the remote servers.

Note:
Unfortunately, Windows is unsupported as a source server. Certain Ansible plugins and/or modules will have other needs or requirements. Usually, these plugins or modules are installed on the same server of the Ansible installation.

Let’s start by installing Python on the source server.
root@test:~# apt-get install python

 

Target Server Requirements

The only requirement from the target server is an open SSH port. Access can also be granted for scp (secure copy) and/or SFTP connections if configured in the /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg file.

Install Ansible On Ubuntu 16.04

To install Ansible on a source Ubuntu server, let’s follow these steps:

Note:
The PPA for Ansible is here: https://launchpad.net/~ansible/+archive/ubuntu/ansible if you would like to review the versions available for your variant of Ubuntu.

root@test:~# apt-get update
root@test:~# apt-get install software-properties-common
root@test:~# apt-add-repository ppa:ansible/ansible
root@test:~# apt-get update
root@test:~# apt-get install ansible
(install text)After this operation, 42.0 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] y
Answer “Y” to the prompt. The install will complete and take you back to the command prompt. Now, let’s check the version of Ansible installed.

Check Ansible Version

root@test:~# ansible --version
ansible 2.7.0
 config file = /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg
 configured module search path = [u'/root/.ansible/plugins/modules', u'/usr/share/ansible/plugins/modules']
 ansible python module location = /usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/ansible
 executable location = /usr/bin/ansible
 python version = 2.7.12 (default, Dec  4 2017, 14:50:18) [GCC 5.4.0 20160609]

As an alternative, you can also install Ansible on your CentOS 7 server.
Ansible also can be installed on RedHat, Debian, MacOS, and any of the BSD flavors!

Install Ansible on CentOS 7

In order to install Ansible on a source CentOS 7 server, follow these steps.
First, we need to make sure that the CentOS 7 EPEL repository is added:

[root@test ~]# cat /etc/redhat-release
CentOS Linux release 7.5.1804 (Core)

[root@test ~]# yum install epel-release
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror, priorities, universal-hooks
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile

...
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check
---> Package epel-release.noarch 0:7-11 will be installed
--> Finished Dependency Resolution
Dependencies Resolved
==========================================================================================================
Package Arch Version Repository Size
==========================================================================================================
Installing:
epel-release noarch 7-11 system-extras 15 k
Transaction Summary
==========================================================================================================
Install 1 Package
Total download size: 15 k
Installed size: 24 k
Is this ok [y/d/N]: y
Downloading packages:
epel-release-7-11.noarch.rpm | 15 kB 00:00:00
Running transaction check
Running transaction test
Transaction test succeeded
Running transaction
Installing : epel-release-7-11.noarch 1/1
Verifying : epel-release-7-11.noarch 1/1
Installed:
epel-release.noarch 0:7-11
Complete!

Select “y”. The EPEL repo will then be added. Once the repository is enabled, we can install Ansible with yum:

root@test:~# yum install ansible
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror, priorities, universal-hooks
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile
epel/x86_64/metalink                                                               | 18 kB 00:00:00
* EA4: 208.100.0.204
* cpanel-addons-production-feed: 208.100.0.204
* epel: mirrors.liquidweb.com
epel                                                                               | 3.2 kB 00:00:00
(1/3): epel/x86_64/group_gz                                                        | 88 kB 00:00:00
(2/3): epel/x86_64/updateinfo
(3/3): epel/x86_64/primary                                                         | 3.6 MB 00:00:00
epel                                                                                          12756/12756
Resolving Dependencies
… (dependencies check)
Dependencies Resolved
==========================================================================================================
Package                        Arch Version            Repository Size
==========================================================================================================
Installing:
ansible                        noarch 2.4.2.0-2.el7            system-extras 7.6 M
Installing for dependencies:
21 k
Transaction Summary
==========================================================================================================
Install  1 Package (+17 Dependent packages)
Total download size: 12 M
Installed size: 58 M
Is this ok [y/d/N]:


Select “y” to start the Ansible install:

Is this ok [y/d/N]: y
… Downloading 18 packages:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total                                                                      30 MB/s | 12 MB 00:00:00
Running transaction check
Running transaction test
Transaction test succeeded
Running transaction
… (installing 18 python related software)
...
Installed:
ansible.noarch 0:2.4.2.0-2.el7
Dependency Installed:
... (dependencies verified)
Complete!

Check Ansible Version on CentOS 7

Now, let’s verify the version installed:

root@test ~]# ansible --version
ansible 2.4.2.0
config file = /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg
configured module search path = [u'/root/.ansible/plugins/modules', u'/usr/share/ansible/plugins/modules'] ansible python module location = /usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/ansible
executable location = /usr/bin/ansible
python version = 2.7.5 (default, Jul 13 2018, 13:06:57) [GCC 4.8.5 20150623 (Red Hat 4.8.5-28)]

 

Setting Up Ansible Connections

Initially, we will be adding server names or IP’s to the /etc/ansible/hosts file to identify which “ungrouped” servers and “groups” of servers we are going to be connecting to. We mention ungrouped and grouped in this specific order because this is the way the Ansible hosts file is usually arranged.

We can use any name we like for the hosts file itself but typically it is just called hosts. Ansible also states that the hosts file can also be identified as an inventory file and, you can have multiple inventory files.

Let’s start by opening the hosts file with vim and inserting some entries into the file.

root@test:~vim /etc/ansible/hosts
Here is what the default hosts file will look like:

# This is the default ansible 'hosts' file.
#
# It should live in /etc/ansible/hosts
#
# - Comments begin with the '#' character
# - Blank lines are ignored
# - Groups of hosts are delimited by [header] elements
# - You can enter hostnames or ip addresses
# - A hostname/ip can be a member of multiple groups
# Example 1: Ungrouped hosts, specify before any group headers.
#green.example.com
#blue.example.com
#192.168.100.1
#192.168.100.10
# Example 2: A collection of hosts belonging to the 'webservers' group
#[webservers] #alpha.example.org
#beta.example.org
#192.168.1.100
#192.168.1.110
# If you have multiple hosts following a pattern you can specify
# them like this:
#www[001:006].example.com
# Example 3: A collection of database servers in the 'dbservers' group
#[dbservers] #
#db01.intranet.mydomain.net
#db02.intranet.mydomain.net
#10.25.1.56
#10.25.1.57
# Here's another example of host ranges, this time there are no
# leading 0s:
#db-[99:101]-node.example.com


As you can see, there are individual servers “#
green.example.com”, and groups like #[webservers] which have multiple servers under the group and, another section with multiple servers listed like #db-[99:101]-node.example.com which identifies all of the individual servers from 99-101; eg.

  • db-99-node.example.com
  • db-100-node.example.com
  • db-101-node.example.com

So, let’s quickly add another server to the #[webservers] group:

#[webserver1]
#alpha.example.org
#beta.example.org
#192.168.1.100
#192.168.1.110gamma.example.com

Now, simply save the file using :wq

Note:
Make sure you uncomment any ‘#’ entries you place in the file otherwise, the entry is excluded!

 

SSH Keys

You can set up public SSH keys from the control server to log in to those remote servers noted in the hosts file. In this case, you simply want to make sure your local SSH keys are located in the /root/.ssh/authorized_keys file on the remote systems. (Depending on your setup, you may wish to use Ansible’s –private-key option to specify a .pem file instead)

 

Verify Ansible Connections

The ansible inventory file (/etc/ansible/hosts) contains the server names you will have control over and can run tasks against. To verify Ansible’s connectivity, run:

ansible remote -m ping

 

Ansible Playbooks

Ansible playbooks (also called inventory files) define the tasks ran on the remote servers. You can have one playbook or multiple playbooks to accomplish different tasks on different servers.  To easily apply a task to all of the servers in a pool, use the ‘group’ name to apply the task for that group (using the example above, you would use the [webserver1] in the command.

 

Create a Playbook

Step 1: In order to create a playbook, let’s create a new file in the /etc/ansible/playbooks/ folder:

mkdir -p /etc/ansible/playbooks/ && touch /etc/ansible/playbooks/playbook.yml && vim /etc/ansible/playbooks/playbook.yml

 

Step 2: Let’s add a server and file entry into the playbook filer:

(Click the insert key to open VIM’s edit access on the file)

- hosts: gamma.example.com
 tasks:
     - name: Create file
       file:
           path: /tmp/test.txt
           state: touch


Once we have added the entry, let’s save the file using

:wq

Step 3: Now, to set up 0644 permissions on that file, we can reopen it and add another line defining the permission set:

- hosts: gamma.example.com
 tasks:
     - name: Create file
       file:
           path: /tmp/test.txt
           state: touch            mode: "u=rw,g=r,o=r"

Again, let’s save the file using

:wq

Step 4: Next, let’s create a folder and then place a text file in it using Ansible. We will add another section defining the element needed:

- hosts: gamma.example.com
 Tasks:       - name: Create folder
       path: /home/tmp/
           state: directory
           mode: 0755
     - name: Create file
       file:
           path: /home/tmp/test.txt
           state: touch            mode: "u=rw,g=r,o=r"

Once we have added this entry, save the file using

:wq

 

Running a Playbook

To start a playbook, simply run:

ansible-playbook /etc/ansible/playbooks/playbook.yml

or if you have multiple playbooks in a folder, can run a specific playbook using the -i <path> option from the command line:

ansible-playbook -i /etc/ansible/playbooks/playbook1.yml
In addition to .yaml files, Ansible can use .json files as well to control the playbook. It is also very easy to convert 
bash or shell scripts into playbooks as well!

Schedule a Playbook Using Cron

As an additional option, you can schedule a playbook to run at a specific time using your servers cron command! To accomplish this, log in to your server as root and run the following command:

crontab -e
This command opens a temporary cron file in your system’s 
default text editor and then simply add a line like so:

0 4 * * * /usr/bin/ansible-playbook /etc/ansible/playbooks/playbook.yml
this will run the
/etc/ansible/playbooks/playbook.yml file at 0400 a.m. using the ansible-playbook command.

 

Troubleshooting A Playbook

Sometimes, a set of commands in the playbook file may fail. If it does, you have several options to address this. Generally, playbooks will simply stop completing the commands in the playbook. If this occurs, you can define a follow-up task in the playbook to overlook the error by adding another section like so:

- name: ignore this error
 command: /bin/false
 ignore_errors: yes


Unreachable Hosts

this command will only work when the task is run but returns a “failed” value.

If Ansible fails to connect to a server, it will set the host as being ‘UNREACHABLE’. This effectively removes the server temporarily from the list of active hosts for that task. To correct this, we can use an entry to reactivate them and have all current hosts previously indicated as being unreachable cleared, so subsequent tasks can use the playbook again.

meta: clear_host_errors


Handlers and Failure

A handler is simply a specially named task that runs when told to by another task. Handlers are executed at the end of the playbook by default as opposed to other tasks, which are executed immediately when defined within the playbook. This behavior can be modified by using the

--force-handlerscommand-line option, or by including

force_handlers: Truein a playbook, or addingforce_handlers = Truein the ansible.cfg file.


If you want to force a handler to run in the middle of two separate tasks instead of at the end of the playbook, you will need to add this entry between the two tasks:

- meta: flush_handlers

When handlers are “forced” like this, they will run when notified even if a task fails on that host.

Note:
Certain errors can still prevent the handler from running, such as a host becoming unreachable.
Handlers will only be visible in the output if they have actually been executed. Also, handlers are only fired when there are changes made by a task. For example, a task may update a specific configuration file and then notify a handler to restart a service. If a task in the same playbook fails later on, the service will not be restarted despite the previous configuration change.

Overall, Ansible is an indispensable tool for managing and administrating a single server or an entire group of geographically diverse servers.

 

How to Install PIP on Windows

One of the best tools to install and manage Python packages is called Pip. Pip has earned its fame by the number of applications using this tool. Used for its capabilities in handling binary packages over the easy_installed packaged manager, Pip enables 3rd party package installations. Though the newest versions of Python come with pip installed as a default, this tutorial will show how to install Pip, check its version, and show some basic commands for its use.

Python is an open-source programming language that allows you to run applications and plugins from a wide variety of 3rd party sources (or even applications you develop yourself) on your server. Python is cross-platform, meaning that you can run it on a number of different operating systems, including Windows Server OS.

 

Pre-flight Check

Before you can install Pip on your server, you’ll need to confirm that Python is installed.

The simplest way to test for a Python installation on your Windows server is to open a command prompt (click on the Windows icon and type cmd, then click on the command prompt icon). Once a command prompt window opens, type python and press Enter. If Python is installed correctly, you should see output similar to what is shown below:

Python 3.7.0 (v3.7.0:1bf9cc5093, Jun 27 2018, 04:59:51) [MSC v.1914 64 bit (AMD64)] on win32
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.

If you receive a message like:

Python is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.

Python is either not installed or the system variable path hasn’t been set. You’ll need to either launch Python from the folder in which it is installed or adjust your system variables to allow Python to be launched from any location.

For more information about installing and using Python, see the Python.org website.

 

Installing Pip

Once you’ve confirmed that Python is correctly installed, you can proceed with installing Pip.

  1. Download get-pip.py to a folder on your computer.
  2. Open a command prompt and navigate to the folder containing get-pip.py.
  3. Run the following command:python get-pip.py
  4. Pip is now installed!

You can verify that Pip was installed correctly by opening a command prompt and entering the following command:

pip -V

You should see output similar to the following:

pip 18.0 from c:\users\administrator\appdata\local\programs\python\python37\lib\site-packages\pip (python 3.7)

Now that Pip is installed and configured, you can begin using it to manage your Python packages. For a brief overview of the available commands and syntax for Pip, open a command prompt and enter:

pip help

All of Liquid Web’s Windows core-managed servers can run Python and our support team can assist with installation and verification if needed. ActiveState Python 2.6.5 can be installed on Plesk Fully Managed servers if desired.

How to Install Pip on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Arguably one of the easiest tools to use for installing and managing Python packages, Pip has earned is notoriety by the number of applications utilizing this tool. Fancied for its capabilities in handling binary packages over the easy_installed packaged manager, pip enables 3rd party package installations. Though Python does sometimes come with pip as a default, this tutorial will show how to install, check its version as well as some basic commands for using pip on Ubuntu 16.04.

 

Pre-Flight Check

  • These instructions are intended for an Ubuntu 16.04 LTS server, and we are logged in as root.
  • If you are using a different operating system, check out our other pip installation guides.

Step 1: 

Ensure that all packages are up-to-date. After running the command below, you’ll get an output of any packages getting their update.

apt-get update

Step 2:

Install pip with cURL and Python. Downloading using the cURL command ensures the latest version of pip.curl "https://bootstrap.pypa.io/get-pip.py" -o "get-pip.py"
python get-pip.py

Step 3: 

Verifying the installation of pip:

pip --version

Output:
pip --version
pip 18.0 from /usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/pip (python 2.7)

Installing Libraries

Pip can install 3rd party packages like Django, Tensorflow, Numpy, Pandas and many more with the following command.

pip install <library_name>

 

Searching for Libraries

You can also search for other libraries in Python’s repository via command line. For our example let’s look for Django packages. The search command shows us an extensive list similar to the one below.

pip search django
django-bagou (0.1.0) - Django Websocket for Django
django-maro (0.0.2) - `django-maro` is utility for django.
django-hooked (0.1.7) - WebHooks for Django and Django Rest Framework.
django-ide (0.0.5) - A Django app to develop Django apps
django-mailwhimp (0.1) - django-mailwhimp integrates mailchimp into Django
django-six (1.0.4) - Django-six —— Django Compatibility Library
django-umanage (1.1.1) - Django user management app for django
django-nadmin (0.1.0) - django nadmin support django version 1.8 based on django-xadmin
diy-django (1.3.1) - diy-django

 

Uninstalling a Library

If you don’t need the library and your scripts use them you can uninstall easily with this command:

pip uninstall

 

Installing Python Resources

Many times Python packages have a requirements.txt file, if you see this file, you can run this command to install all libraries in that package

pip install -r requirements.txt

 

Using Conda for Alternate Python Installations

Let’s be honest: Most of the time, the Python version included with a Linux distro isn’t the newest. For example, at the time of this writing, the version of Python 2 included with our CentOS 7 Storm images is 2.7.5, and Python 3 isn’t even available out of the box. For reference (again, at the time of this writing), the latest versions are 2.7.14 and 3.6.4 respectively.

Chances are that if you’re reading this article, you already have a reason to run a different version than what’s included (especially if 3.x is needed). However, if you stumbled on this article by chance, various reasons might include new features, a software package or library that only works up to a certain version, etc.

Continue reading “Using Conda for Alternate Python Installations”

Using Passenger with cPanel on CentOS 7

Phusion Passenger is a web application server that can run Ruby, Node.js, and Python applications on your webserver. It integrates with both Apache and Nginx to serve content to your visitors. Historically, this application was difficult to integrate with cPanel servers, which would combine the power of Ruby applications with the ease of management that cPanel provides, but recent advancements make setting up your Passenger module very simple. This easy walkthrough will show you how to add Passenger, Apache mod_passenger, and the supporting Ruby installation to cPanel. Continue reading “Using Passenger with cPanel on CentOS 7”

How to Install or Upgrade Django Using Pip

Django is a Python web framework; it’s free, open source, and often used with complex, database-driven websites.

Pre-Flight Check
  • These instructions are intended specifically for installing Django, a Python web framework.
  • I’ll be working from a Liquid Web Core Managed CentOS 7 server, and I’ll be logged in as root.

Continue reading “How to Install or Upgrade Django Using Pip”

How to Install an Object Storage Python Library (boto)

boto is a python library that enables a user to interact with Storm Object Storage, as well as other web services by Amazon, Google, and OpenStack.

Pre-Flight Check
  • These instructions are intended specifically for installing boto, a python library for managing Storm Object Stores.
  • I’ll be working from a Liquid Web Core Managed CentOS 7 server, and I’ll be logged in as root.

Continue reading “How to Install an Object Storage Python Library (boto)”

How to Install Pip on Fedora 21

Pip is a tool for installing and managing Python packages.

Python is a programming language. It is quite popular and has a design philosophy that emphasizes code readability. It is widely considered to be a very easy programming language to learn and master because of its focus on readability. Python is open source, and will run a multitude of platforms including, but not limited to: Various Linux/UNIX distributions (CentOS, Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, etc.), Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS X.

Pre-Flight Check
  • These instructions are intended specifically for installing Pip, a tool for installing and managing Python packages.
  • I’ll be working from a Liquid Web Self Managed Fedora 21 server, and I’ll be logged in as root.

Continue reading “How to Install Pip on Fedora 21”

How to Install Pip on Fedora 20

Pip is a tool for installing and managing Python packages.

Python is a programming language. It is quite popular and has a design philosophy that emphasizes code readability. It is widely considered to be a very easy programming language to learn and master because of its focus on readability. Python is open source, and will run a a multitude of platforms including, but not limited to: Various Linux/UNIX distributions (CentOS, Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, etc.), Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS X.

Pre-Flight Check
  • These instructions are intended specifically for installing Pip, a tool for installing and managing Python packages.
  • I’ll be working from a Liquid Web Self Managed Fedora 20 server, and I’ll be logged in as root.

Continue reading “How to Install Pip on Fedora 20”

How to Install Pip on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Pip is a tool for installing and managing Python packages.

Python is a programming language. It is quite popular and has a design philosophy that emphasizes code readability. It is widely considered to be a very easy programming language to learn and master because of its focus on readability. Python is open source, and will run a multitude of platforms including, but not limited to: Various Linux/UNIX distributions (CentOS, Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, etc.), Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS X.

Pre-Flight Check
  • These instructions are intended specifically for installing Pip, a tool for installing and managing Python packages.
  • I’ll be working from a Liquid Web Core Managed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS server, and I’ll be logged in as root.

Continue reading “How to Install Pip on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS”