How to Install and Configure latest version of Ansible on Ubuntu Linux

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I am a new Ubuntu Linux user. How do I install Ansible on a Ubuntu Linux 16.04/18.04 LTS or 17.10/18.10 desktop control machine?

Introduction: Ansible is a simple and easy to use IT automation tool. One can use Ansible to deploy applications and systems/VM/containers. Ansible configuration is written in plain English and works on the remote/local server using SSH. No agents needed on the remote server.
How To Install and Configure latest version of Ansible on Ubuntu
In this guide, you will install Ansible on a Ubuntu Linux 16.04 LTS or 17.10 desktop system and learn some basics of how to use the software for automation purpose.

How to Install and Configure latest version of Ansible on Ubuntu Linux

You must configure the PPA on your system to install the latest version of ansible. To manage the repositories that you install software from various PPA (Personal Package Archives). It allow you to upload Ubuntu source packages to be built and published as an apt repository by Launchpad. Type the following apt-get command or apt command:
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt upgrade
$ sudo apt install software-properties-common

Next add ppa:ansible/ansible to your system’s Software Source:
$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ansible/ansible

  Ansible is a radically simple IT automation platform that makes your applications and systems easier to deploy. Avoid writing scripts or custom code to deploy and update your applications— automate in a language that approaches plain English, using SSH, with no agents to install on remote systems.
 More info:
Press [ENTER] to continue or Ctrl-c to cancel adding it.
Hit:1 bionic InRelease
Get:2 bionic-updates InRelease [88.7 kB]
Get:3 bionic-security InRelease [83.2 kB]                                       
Get:4 bionic InRelease [15.9 kB]                      
Get:5 bionic/main amd64 Packages [536 B]
Get:6 bionic/main Translation-en [344 B]                    
Fetched 189 kB in 2s (96.1 kB/s)                    
Reading package lists... Done

Update your repos:
$ sudo apt update
Sample outputs:

Hit:1 bionic InRelease
Get:2 bionic-security InRelease [83.2 kB]
Hit:3 bionic InRelease                                          
Get:4 bionic-updates InRelease [88.7 kB]
Fetched 172 kB in 2s (111 kB/s)    
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
All packages are up to date.

To install the latest version of ansible, enter:
$ sudo apt install ansible
Sample outputs:

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
  ieee-data libpsl5 publicsuffix python-certifi python-chardet python-jmespath python-kerberos python-libcloud python-lockfile python-netaddr python-openssl python-requests python-selinux python-simplejson python-urllib3 python-xmltodict wget
Use 'sudo apt autoremove' to remove them.
The following additional packages will be installed:
  python-setuptools sshpass
Suggested packages:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  ansible python-setuptools sshpass
0 upgraded, 3 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 4,271 kB of archives.
After this operation, 35.9 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] y
Get:1 bionic/main amd64 ansible all 2.7.5-1ppa~bionic [3,931 kB]
Get:2 bionic/main amd64 python-setuptools all 39.0.1-2 [329 kB]
Get:3 bionic/universe amd64 sshpass amd64 1.06-1 [10.5 kB]
Fetched 4,271 kB in 13s (326 kB/s)                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Selecting previously unselected package python-setuptools.
(Reading database ... 19558 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack .../python-setuptools_39.0.1-2_all.deb ...
Unpacking python-setuptools (39.0.1-2) ...
Selecting previously unselected package sshpass.
Preparing to unpack .../sshpass_1.06-1_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking sshpass (1.06-1) ...
Selecting previously unselected package ansible.
Preparing to unpack .../ansible_2.7.5-1ppa~bionic_all.deb ...
Unpacking ansible (2.7.5-1ppa~bionic) ...
Setting up python-setuptools (39.0.1-2) ...
Setting up sshpass (1.06-1) ...
Setting up ansible (2.7.5-1ppa~bionic) ...
Installing new version of config file /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg ...
Installing new version of config file /etc/ansible/hosts ...

Finding out the Ansible version

Type the following command:
$ ansible --version
Sample outputs:

ansible 2.7.5
  config file = /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg
  configured module search path = [u'/home/vivek/.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 = 2.7.15rc1 (default, Nov 12 2018, 14:31:15) [GCC 7.3.0]

Creating your hosts file

Ansible needs to know your remote server names or IP address. This information is stored in a file called hosts. The default is /etc/ansible/hosts. You can edit this one or create a new one in your $HOME directory:
$ sudo vi /etc/ansible/hosts
$ vi $HOME/hosts
Append your server’s DNS or IP address:



I have two groups. The first one named as webserver and other is called devservers.

Setting up ssh keys

You must configure ssh keys between your machine and remote servers specified in ~/hosts file:
$ ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C "My ansisble key"
Use scp or ssh-copy-id command to copy your public key file (e.g., $HOME/.ssh/ to your account on the remote server/host:
$ ssh-copy-id -i $HOME/.ssh/
$ ssh-copy-id -i $HOME/.ssh/ root@
$ ssh-copy-id -i $HOME/.ssh/ root@
$ ssh-copy-id -i $HOME/.ssh/ root@
$ eval $(ssh-agent)
$ ssh-add

Now ansible can talk to all remote servers using ssh command.

Send ping requests to all servers

Just type the following command:
$ ansible -i ~/hosts -m ping all
Sample outputs: | SUCCESS => {
    "changed": false, 
    "failed": false, 
    "ping": "pong"
} | SUCCESS => {
    "changed": false, 
    "failed": false, 
    "ping": "pong"
} | SUCCESS => {
    "changed": false, 
    "failed": false, 
    "ping": "pong"

Find out uptime for all hosts

$ ansible -i hosts -m shell -a 'uptime' all
Sample outputs:

do-de.public | SUCCESS | rc=0  
 10:37:02 up 1 day,  8:39,  1 user,  load average: 0.95, 0.27, 0.12
do-blr-vpn | SUCCESS | rc=0 
 16:07:11 up 1 day,  8:43,  1 user,  load average: 0.01, 0.01, 0.00
ln.gfs01 | SUCCESS | rc=0  
 10:37:17 up 22 days,  5:30,  1 user,  load average: 0.18, 0.12, 0.05


  1. -i ~/hosts : Specify inventory host path. You can setup shell variable and skip the -i option. For e.g.: export ANSIBLE_HOSTS=~/hosts
  2. -m shell : Module name to execute such as shell, apt, yum and so on
  3. -a 'uptime' : Module arguments. For example, shell module will accept Unix/Linux command names. The apt module will accept options to update remote boxes using apt-get/apt command and so on.
  4. all : The all means “all hosts.” You can speificy group name such as devservers (ansible -i hosts -m shell -a 'uptime' dbservers) or host names too.

Update all Debian/Ubuntu server using apt module

Run the following command:
$ ansible -i ~/hosts -m apt -a 'update_cache=yes upgrade=dist' dbservers

Writing your first playbook

You can combine all modules in a text file as follows in yml format i.e. create a file named update.yml:

- hosts: dbservers
          - name: Updating host using apt
                    update_cache: yes
                    upgrade: dist

Here is my hosts file:
cat hosts
Sample outputs:

# Username for ssh connection
# Run commands as root user?  
# How do I become root user? Use sudo. 
# Password for sudo
# Password for sudo user i.e. ansible_user password
# See
# Read it from an encrypted file
# ansible_become_pass='{{ my_sudo_password }}' 

Now you can run it as follows:
$ ansible-playbook -i ~/hosts update.yml

Fig.01: Ansible playbook in action
Fig.01: Ansible playbook in action

You just install and configure latest version of Ansible on Ubuntu Linux and ran your first playbook too.

A note about Python version 3

Ansible needs python installed on a remote server. You can specify remote version of python using the following syntax in hosts file:
ansible_python_interpreter='/usr/bin/env python3'
For example here is my sample host file displayed using the cat command:
cat hosts

ansible_user='{{ my_user }}'
ansible_become_pass='{{ my_user_pass }}'
ansible_python_interpreter='/usr/bin/env python3'


That is all. Now you have a working ansible setup running on Ubuntu desktop/laptop and communication with remote servers. I suggest you learn how to write playbook and other stuff in the official documents.

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

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Historical Comment Archive

1 comment

  1. Nice tutorial. On your update section that uses apt, you need to pass the -b and -K switches to become root and ask for the SUDO password. Otherwise the command will fail unless you are sshing in as root, which I wouldn’t recommend.

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