Ansible ships with a number of modules (called the ‘module library’) that can be executed directly on remote hosts or through Playbooks.
Users can also write their own modules. These modules can control system resources, like services, packages, or files (anything really), or handle executing system commands.
Let’s review how we execute three different modules from the command line:
ansible webservers -m service -a "name=httpd state=started" ansible webservers -m ping ansible webservers -m command -a "/sbin/reboot -t now"
Each module supports taking arguments. Nearly all modules take key=value arguments, space delimited. Some modules take no arguments, and the command/shell modules simply take the string of the command you want to run.
From playbooks, Ansible modules are executed in a very similar way:
- name: reboot the servers action: command /sbin/reboot -t now
Which can be abbreviated to:
- name: reboot the servers command: /sbin/reboot -t now
All modules technically return JSON format data, though if you are using the command line or playbooks, you don’t really need to know much about that. If you’re writing your own module, you care, and this means you do not have to write modules in any particular language – you get to choose.
Modules are idempotent, meaning they will seek to avoid changes to the system unless a change needs to be made. When using Ansible playbooks, these modules can trigger ‘change events’ in the form of notifying ‘handlers’ to run additional tasks.
Documentation for each module can be accessed from the command line with the ansible-doc tool: