Getting started with Ansible for configuration management (Tutorial)

Ansible tutorial: Getting started with configuration management
In this Ansible tutorial for beginners, we’ll cover getting started with Ansible as a configuration management tool for setting up a bare CentOS, Debian, and Ubuntu server with more secure SSH settings and a few tools to make your life a little easier. Our goals:
  1. Set up a non-root user
  2. Give the new user sudo access
  3. Disable password-based logins
  4. Disable root logins
  5. Use SSH keys for logins

Prerequisites for this Ansible configuration management tutorial

  • A newly-provisioned or rebuilt server running any of our OS options—CentOS, Debian, or Ubuntu.

Step 1: Install Ansible on your local machine

To get started using Ansible for configuration management, you first need to install it on your local machine. Ansible's documenation gives installation instructions for a variety of platforms, including various *nix distributions and OS X.

Step 2: Edit the Ansible hosts file

To connect Ansible to your VPS, you need to specify its IP address within Ansible’s hosts file. On Linux and OS X machines, that can be found at /etc/ansible/hosts. The beginning of the file should look like this:
# This is the default ansible 'hosts' file.
# It should live in /etc/ansible/hosts
#   - Comments begin with the '#' character
#   - Blank lines are ignored
#   - Groups of hosts are delimited by [header] elements
#   - You can enter hostnames or ip addresses
#   - A hostname/ip can be a member of multiple groups

# Ex 1: Ungrouped hosts, specify before any group headers.

To enable your VPS, simply add the IP address anywhere in this file underneath an [ssdnodes] grouping. There should be no other symbols—like the # comment—in the line.
Now, test out your configuration by pinging your VPS. For now, you have to use -u root to ensure you’re trying to connect via the root account.
$ ansible all -m ping -u root
If it’s successful, you’ll see the following output: | SUCCESS => {
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