Ansible For Windows Managed Nodes

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On starting to look at learning using Ansible to manage Windows hosts, first step was to setup a test lab.

Setup an Ubuntu 14.04 or CentOS 7 and a Windows 2008 R2 virtual machines.

Install Ansible (Ubuntu)

apt-get install software-properties-common
apt-add-repository ppa:ansible/ansible
apt-get update
apt-get install ansible
sudo pip install

Install Ansible (CentOS 7 Minimal)

yum update
yum install net-tools
yum install epel-release
yum install ansible

Configure WinRM On Windows 2008 R2 Guest

The configuration of Windows managed guests WinRM is automated and available in this powershell script.

Create A Working Space Test Your Connectivity

Ansible is file based, so here I create a folder underneath my home directory to store my lab configuration

mkdir -p ~/ansible_test/group_vars

We then create a file for holding hosts in lab and begin editing it

vi ~/ansible_test/host

Add the contents of this in the following format, adding extra lines with extra IPs as needed

<windows server ip address>

We then create a file for holding WinRM connectivity hosts in lab and begin editing it

vi /home/<user>/ansible_test/group_vars/windows.yml

Add the contents of this in the following format, adding extra lines with username and password as needed

# it is suggested that these be encrypted with ansible-vault:
# ansible-vault edit group_vars/windows.yml
ansible_ssh_user: <admin user>
ansible_ssh_pass: <admin user password>
ansible_ssh_port: 5986
ansible_connection: winrm

Once we have these two files setup, we can look to test connectivity

cd /home/dcauldwell/ansible_test
ansible windows -i host -m win_ping

Debugging is not enabled by default, you might want to append -vvvvv to enable this if you have issue on first connect.

If you still have issues you can test connectivity using cURL

curl -vk -d "" -u "user:pass" https://<windows server ip address>:5986/wsman"

When you havethe win_ping module working, you can look at running the other modules shipped with the core product a full list can be found here. Maybe you might gather the Ansible facts using.

ansible <windows server ip address> -m setup

Create A Custom Powershell Module

On looking at the core modules you might think your a bit limited but its easy to wrapper your existing Powershell logic as an Ansible module.

I decided to keep all my custom modules in the lab in there own folder and change the module path.

mkdir -p ~/ansible_test/group_vars/library
export ANSIBLE_LIBRARY=~/ansible_test/library/

An Ansible Powershell module is made up of two files, one is the ps1 with the script contents and one is py which has description and examples. The main difference appears to be to get the Powershell console output back to Ansible you need to form as object and convert that object to JSON. It also appears not required but good practice to set an object to be returned with a changed flag to true or false unsure but believe this logic might be used at runtime to decide whether to call the handler.

An easy way to create a new module, is to copy an existing one and rename it this way you get the supporting text and structure.

cp /usr/share/pyshared/ansible/modules/core/windows/win_ping* ~/ansible_test/library/
mv ~/ansible_test/library/win_ping.ps1 ~/ansible_test/library/<new module name>.ps1
mv ~/ansible_test/library/ ~/ansible_test/library/<new module name>.py

A simple example use case might be if you wanted to call the Get-Host cmdlet to gather Powershell version your ps1 might read.

$data = Get-Host | Select Version
$result = New-Object psobject @{
get_host_version = $data
changed = $false
Exit-Json $result;

Using the same example your py might read

module: get_host
version_added: "0.1"
short_description: Call Get-Host cmdlet.
- Call Get-Host cmdlet
# Test connectivity to a windows host
ansible winserver -m get_host
# Example from an Ansible Playbook
- action: get_host

Once we have these two module files, we can look to test the new module

cd /home/dcauldwell/ansible_test
ansible windows -i host -m get_host

If its working you should get returned the output from Get-Host command

dcauldwell@ansible-server:~/ansible_test$ ansible windows -i host -m get_host | success >> {
"changed": false,
"get_host_version": {
"Version": {
"Build": -1,
"Major": 4,
"MajorRevision": -1,
"Minor": 0,
"MinorRevision": -1,
"Revision": -1

With this technique you should be able to form some simple modules.