Ansible Server Automation: How to Automate Server Configuration

Ansible Server Automation: How to Automate Server Configuration. Did you want to learn more about automation of Ansible? We welcome you to learn about it below. In today’s world automation is very much an integral part of system administration. Modern application environments are often disposable and require quick and efficient server setup.

To achieve this, Ansible was created to streamline automating server setup by establishing standard procedures for new servers, saving time, and reducing the likelihood of human error associated with manual configurations.

Follow this post to read about benefits of automating server configuration with Ansible. We then show you how to automate remote server configuration with Ansible.

What is Ansible?

We should know, that Ansible is a Python based open source command line IT automation software program that helps to configure systems, deploy software, and demonstrate complex workflows to support application deployment, system updates, and other tasks.

Are you aware, that this is one of the must have tools for DevOps engineers and network engineers? Why? Well, it offers a centralized control system that makes managing and monitoring infrastructure easier from a single interface. Moreover, Ansible saves you time, decreases errors, and increases the overall efficiency of your infrastructure operations by applying Ansible Automation.

Benefits of Automating Server Configuration with Ansible

1. It Reduces Manual Work

We very well know, that manual work is not a feasible solution for a long time or in a growing company. Especially for maintaining the entire infrastructure and server configuration. Organizations shall minimize repetition and error-prone manual server setup activities by using Ansible’s extensive automation features. This improves operational efficiency and reduces the possibility of human error, resulting in increased system reliability. Ansible’s declarative language defines infrastructure as code, improving consistency across servers and ensuring settings are easily reproducible. Furthermore, IT teams are able to concentrate on more strategic and sophisticated activities to construct a more agile and robust infrastructure.

2. Seamless Configuration Management

In this instance, Ansible provides a unified platform for configuration tasks, allowing administrators to manage and deploy changes across multiple servers effortlessly. This means consistency in configurations, reduction of discrepancies and enhancement of overall system stability. What is more, Ansible’s agentless architecture further simplifies the process, allowing for easy scaling without additional installations on target servers. Hence, you may easily achieve a streamlined and efficient configuration management solution, whilst promoting agility, reliability, and ease of maintenance in your IT infrastructure.

3. Handles Repetitive Processes using Automation

we are aware, that Ansible reduces the requirement for manual intervention in server deployment and management. This not only speeds up the configuration process but also decreases the chances of errors caused by repetitive manual work. This tool assures server consistency, allowing for quick and dependable configuration updates. As a result, IT departments can reallocate resources to more strategic activities, increasing productivity and promoting a more responsive and scalable infrastructure. Ansible’s ability to handle repetitive procedures is a significant advantage for enterprises looking for streamlined and error-free server settings.

4. Improved Efficiency and Work Productivity

The automation capabilities of Ansible make the server deployment and management process by decreasing the time and effort necessary for repetitive activities. IT teams can achieve consistent and error-free results in less time by automating configuration processes, increasing operational efficiency. This eventually speeds up your workflows and allow IT workers to concentrate on more strategic parts of their jobs. With this increase in efficiency and productivity, Ansible has become a significant tool for enterprises looking to streamline their server configuration operations.

5. Supports Multi Cloud Environment

Ansible’s versatility extends across various cloud platforms, enabling consistent configuration management regardless of the provider. This ensures adaptability and flexibility in deploying and managing servers across diverse cloud infrastructures. With a unified approach to configuration tasks, Ansible simplifies the complexities associated with multi cloud environments, promoting interoperability and minimizing vendor lock-in. This capability allows organizations to utilize the benefits of different cloud services while maintaining a cohesive and automated server configuration strategy and resource optimization in today’s dynamic IT landscapes.

Ansible Server Automation: How to Automate Server Configuration with Ansible

Read our step-by-step guide below that shows you automating server configuration using Ansible.


  • A root user or a user with sudo privileges

Step 1 - Install Ansible

Before starting, Ansible should be installed on your control node. If it is not installed, follow the below steps to install Ansible.

First, add the Ansible repository using the following command.

					apt-add-repository ppa:ansible/ansible 

Once the repository is updated, you can install the Ansible using the following command.

					apt install ansible -y 

Now verify the Ansible installation using the following command.

					ansible --version

You see the following output.

					ansible [core 2.14.6]
  config file = /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg
  configured module search path = ['/home/vyom/.ansible/plugins/modules', '/usr/share/ansible/plugins/modules']
  ansible python module location = /usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/ansible
  ansible collection location = /home/vyom/.ansible/collections:/usr/share/ansible/collections
  executable location = /usr/bin/ansible
  python version = 3.10.12 (main, Jun 11 2023, 05:26:28) [GCC 11.4.0] (/usr/bin/python3)
  jinja version = 3.0.3
  libyaml = True

Step 2 - Configure Ansible Control Node

Next step is to edit Ansible main configuration file and define the IP address of your target server.

					nano /etc/ansible/hosts 

Add the following line:

remoteserver ansible_host=remote-server-ip 

Save and close the file, then verify the Ansible inventory using the following command.

					ansible-inventory --list

You will see your remote host information in the following output.

Step 3 - Update Repository

On a fresh Linux system, it is always recommended to update the APT repository cache to get the latest package version. Let’s create a playbook to update the APT repository on the target server.

					nano update-repo.yaml

Add the following content.

- name: Update APT Repository
  hosts: remoteserver

    - name: Update APT cache
      become: yes  
        update_cache: yes  # Update the APT package cache


Save and close the file, then run the playbook using the following command.

					ansible-playbook update-repo.yaml -u root -k

You will see the following screen.

Step 4 - Add a Sudo User to Setup Tasks

Running a playbook using a root user is not advisable for security reasons. So, it is always recommended to create a user with sudo privileges to execute the remote tasks via the playbook.

Let’s create a playbook to add a Sudo user on the target server.

					nano add-sudo-user.yaml

Add the following content.

					- name: Setup Sudo User
  hosts: remoteserver

  - name: Setup passwordless sudo
     path: /etc/sudoers
     state: present
     regexp: ^%sudo
     line: '%sudo ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL'
     validate: "/usr/sbin/visudo -cf %s"

  - name: Create a new sudo user
     name: 'adminuser'
     state: present
     groups: sudo
     append: true
     create_home: true

Save and close the file, then run the above playbook.

					ansible-playbook add-sudo-user.yaml -u root -k

You will see the following screen.

Step 5 - Configure SSH keys for the Sudo user

Next, you must implement passwordless authentication between the Ansible and remote nodes. So you can execute any task without providing a password. To achieve this, you must create an SSH key, copy it to the remote server, and disable the root password login.

Let’s create a playbook for this task.

					nano configure-ssh.yaml

Add the following content.

					- name: Setup SSH Key
  hosts: remoteserver

  - name: Set authorized key for remote user
     user: adminuser
     state: present
     key: "{{ lookup('file', lookup('env','HOME') + '') }}"

  - name: Disable password authentication for root
     path: /etc/ssh/sshd_config
     state: present
     regexp: '^#?PermitRootLogin'
     line: 'PermitRootLogin prohibit-password'


Save and close the file then run the playbook.

					ansible-playbook configure-ssh.yaml -u root -k

You see the following screen after the successful playbook execution.

Step 6 - Install Basic Packages on the Target Server

It is also recommended to install some essential packages such as wget, curl, nano, git, and ufw should be installed on the target server. Let’s create a playbook to install those packages.

					nano install-basic-packages.yaml

Add the following content.

					- name: Run playbook as an admin user.
  hosts: remoteserver
  become: true
    default_username: adminuser 

  - name: Update apt and install required system packages
       - curl
       - wget
       - git
       - ufw
       - nano
     state: latest
     update_cache: true


Save the file, then run the above playbook using the adminuser.

					ansible-playbook install-basic-packages.yaml -u adminuser

You see the following screen:

Step 7 - Configure Firewall on Remote Server

I would also recommend implementing a UFW firewall on the target server to secure your server from attack. You can create a playbook to implement the UFW firewall for SSH.

					nano firewall.yaml

Add the following content.

					- name: Run playbook as an admin user.
  hosts: remoteserver
  become: true
    default_username: adminuser 

  - name: Allow SSH via UFW
      rule: allow
      name: OpenSSH
  - name: UFW - Enable and deny by default
      state: enabled
      default: deny

Save the file, then run the playbook to implement the UFW firewall.

					ansible-playbook firewall.yaml -u adminuser

You will see the following screen.

Did you enjoy reading Ansible Server Automation: How to Automate Server Configuration? We hope we added to your knowledge base of Ansible. 

Conclusion: Ansible Server Automation: How to Automate Server Configuration

This guide explained a detailed overview of automating basic initial server setup tasks using Ansible, such as creating a sudo user, setting up SSH passwordless authentication, implementing UFW rules, and installing basic packages. You can also create a new playbook and add new tasks to customize your initial server setup further.

Avatar for Hitesh Jethva
Hitesh Jethva

I am a fan of open source technology and have more than 10 years of experience working with Linux and Open Source technologies. I am one of the Linux technical writers for Cloud Infrastructure Services.

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