Dynamic inventory Ansible (behind a jumpbox / bastion )

James Kingsmill
Feb 12, 2017 · 2 min read

The problem: you want to deploy code to an AutoScaling Group, but the EC2 instances are in a security group that is only accessible through a jumpbox.

Dynamic inventory

Step one is to get Ansible working with dynamic inventory. (We assume you’ve installed Ansible already.)

Download ec2.py and ec2.ini and put them both in /etc/ansible/. (If you’re on a Mac you’ll need to create this directory.)

cd /etc/ansiblesudo wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ansible/ansible/devel/contrib/inventory/ec2.pysudo wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ansible/ansible/devel/contrib/inventory/ec2.ini

Then set environment variables to point Ansible to the right locations:

export ANSIBLE_HOSTS=/etc/ansible/ec2.py
export EC2_INI_PATH=/etc/ansible/ec2.ini

If your AWS credentials have been set, you should be able to list your inventory:

python /etc/ansible/ec2.py --list

Make sure your ssh keypair has been added to your ssh-agent:

ssh-add ~/.ssh/keypair

And from there, you should be able to run Ansible against one of your instances. In this case, there’s an EC2 instance that was tagged with Name: testbox.

ansible -m ping “tag_Name_testbox” | SUCCESS => {
“changed”: false,
“ping”: “pong”


The next step is to get Ansible working with instances that are only ssh accessible through a jumpbox.

Make the following changes to /etc/ansible/ec2.ini to ensure Ansible connects on the EC2 instances’ private IPs:

destination_variable = private_dns_name
vpc_destination_variable = private_ip_address

Add the following lines to ~/.ssh/config. This will forward all ssh connections to anything within your VPC on the subnet through your jumphost’s public IP ( in this case).

Host 10.*.*.*
User ubuntu
IdentityFile ~/.ssh/keypair
ProxyCommand ssh -q -W %h:%p #-q only required on Mac
User ubuntu
IdentityFile ~/.ssh/keypair
ForwardAgent yes

Add these lines to a file called playbook.yml:

- hosts: tag_Name_testbox
remote_user: ubuntu
become: yes
- name: test connection
remote_user: ubuntu

When you run ansible-playbook on this file, you should get a positive response from your tagged instance:

ansible-playbook playbook.yml
PLAY [tag_Name_testbox] ************************************************
TASK [setup] *******************************************************************
ok: []
TASK [test connection] *********************************************************
ok: []
PLAY RECAP ********************************************************************* : ok=2 changed=0 unreachable=0 failed=0

(If you get a /usr/bin/python error, make sure that you have python installed on the managed node as per the Ansible install guide.)

It’s a short jump to get this integrated into your deployment pipeline!





James Kingsmill

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