NashTech Insights

How to Troubleshoot Ansible Playbooks: Tips for Effective Debugging

Rahul Miglani
Rahul Miglani
Table of Contents
woman using silver laptop

Introduction: As you embrace Ansible to automate your IT infrastructure, encountering errors and unexpected behavior in playbooks is inevitable. Effective debugging is a crucial skill that can save you time and frustration while ensuring your playbooks work as intended. In this blog, we will explore some valuable tips for troubleshooting Ansible playbooks and demonstrate a practical example of debugging.

Use Verbose and Debug Modes:

Ansible provides two modes that can significantly aid in troubleshooting: verbose mode and debug mode. Verbose mode (-v or -vv) prints more information about the tasks being executed, while debug mode (-vvv) gives even more detailed output, including variable values.


ansible-playbook -i inventory.yaml playbook.yaml -vvv

Print Debug Messages:

You can use the “debug” module in your playbook to print specific variables or messages to the console. This helps to check the values of variables or verify the flow of your playbook.


Check Syntax and YAML Structure

Incorrect syntax or improper YAML structure can cause playbooks to fail. Always validate your playbook’s syntax using the “ansible-playbook” command with the “–syntax-check” flag before running it.


Set “Any Errors” Strategy:

By default, Ansible stops executing a playbook when an error is encountered. You can change this behavior by setting the “any_errors_fatal” strategy to False. This allows the playbook to continue execution even if errors are encountered, enabling you to see a more comprehensive overview of the issues.


Isolate Playbook Sections:

If a playbook fails, consider isolating specific sections or tasks to identify the problematic part. Comment out or temporarily remove parts of your playbook to pinpoint the source of errors.


Enable “pdb” Debugger: You can use the Python Debugger (pdb) to inspect the execution of your playbook interactively. Add “ansible_python_interpreter: /usr/bin/python3” to your playbook to enable pdb.


Conclusion: Troubleshooting Ansible playbooks is an essential skill for successful automation. By leveraging verbose and debug modes, using the “debug” module, validating syntax, setting “any_errors_fatal” strategy, isolating playbook sections, and enabling the “pdb” debugger, you can effectively identify and resolve issues in your playbooks.

Remember that debugging is an iterative process, and patience and attention to detail are key. Always thoroughly test your playbooks in a controlled environment before deploying them to production.

Happy troubleshooting and automating with Ansible!

Rahul Miglani

Rahul Miglani

Rahul Miglani is Vice President at NashTech and Heads the DevOps Competency and also Heads the Cloud Engineering Practice. He is a DevOps evangelist with a keen focus to build deep relationships with senior technical individuals as well as pre-sales from customers all over the globe to enable them to be DevOps and cloud advocates and help them achieve their automation journey. He also acts as a technical liaison between customers, service engineering teams, and the DevOps community as a whole. Rahul works with customers with the goal of making them solid references on the Cloud container services platforms and also participates as a thought leader in the docker, Kubernetes, container, cloud, and DevOps community. His proficiency includes rich experience in highly optimized, highly available architectural decision-making with an inclination towards logging, monitoring, security, governance, and visualization.

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