Automated testing of ansible roles

What is this?

Basic idea: whenever most things happen in your ansible repository (for example commit, pull request or release) then you want to automatically test the ansible code.

The basic tools:

  • syntax-checking
  • lint / codying style adherence
  • actually running the code
  • is it idempotent
  • does the end result look like you want it to?

How it should be done

Use something like molecule which can launch your container/virtual machine, run ansible, check for lint and also run some testing framework like serverspec/testinfra.

How I currently to do it

I use travis to test many ansible roles and playbooks. From travis you basically get an Ubuntu machine and in that you can run whatever you want.

Basic process I’ve used for ansible testing:

  • Configure docker on the Ubuntu machine (or LXC in some roles)
  • Launch a docker with the OS you want to test on (in my case mostly CentOS 7, but sometimes Debian)
  • Run ansible-playbook with –syntax-check, –check and twice to check for idempotency
  • Run some manual commands at the end to test whatever was configured / or at least print some config files to make sure they look OK

All of the above and more should be doable now with molecule, first and last time I tried I couldn’t get it to work but it’s looking better.

Actual commands to test

  • ansible-playbook –syntax-check
  • ansible-lint
  • ansible-playbook
  • ansible-playbook
  • ansible-playbook –check

Order Matters

Do you want to run it in noop mode ( –check ) before or after the role has first run at least once to configure all the things?

How to actually set this up

Official travis documentation

Login with your github account on (or if it’s a private repo) ( and connect your github organization ).

Enable the repository, for example

Add some files to your repo. I usually copy .travis.yml and tests/ directory from an existing repository like ansible-role-cvmfs .

Modify the test playbook – tests/test.yml to include the new role, maybe change some default variables and have a look in script if there are anything you want to add or remove from there too.

Push to github and watch the build log :)

Working Fighting with Travis

Fighting with docker took a lot of my time when getting this working the first time. Especially as I use ansible to configure servers that run multiple services and want to have a full systemd inside the container.

Commands to run on an Ubuntu 14.04 VM to get a kind of similar environment as in travis:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt install build-essential libssl-dev libffi-dev python-dev git
sudo apt install cgroup-lite
echo 'DOCKER_OPTS="-H tcp:// -H unix:///var/run/docker.sock -s devicemapper"' | sudo tee /etc/default/docker > /dev/null
sudo cgroups-mount

And then from there run the commands you have in .travis.yml

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