Documentation

Adding modules and plugins locally

The easiest, quickest, and most popular way to extend Ansible is to copy or write a module or a plugin for local use. You can store local modules and plugins on your Ansible control node for use within your team or organization. You can also share a local plugin or module by embedding it in a role and publishing it on Ansible Galaxy. If you’ve been using roles off Galaxy, you may have been using local modules and plugins without even realizing it. If you’re using a local module or plugin that already exists, this page is all you need.

Extending Ansible with local modules and plugins offers lots of shortcuts:

  • You can copy other people’s modules and plugins.
  • If you’re writing a new module, you can choose any programming language you like.
  • You don’t have to clone the main Ansible repo.
  • You don’t have to open a pull request.
  • You don’t have to add tests (though we recommend that you do!).

To save a local module or plugin so Ansible can find and use it, drop the module or plugin in the correct “magic” directory. For local modules, use the name of the file as the module name: for example, if the module file is ~/.ansible/plugins/modules/local_users.py, use local_users as the module name.

Modules and plugins: what’s the difference?

If you’re looking to add local functionality to Ansible, you may be wondering whether you need a module or a plugin. Here’s a quick overview of the differences:

  • Modules are reusable, standalone scripts that can be used by the Ansible API, the ansible command, or the ansible-playbook command. Modules provide a defined interface, accepting arguments and returning information to Ansible by printing a JSON string to stdout before exiting. Modules execute on the target system (usually that means on a remote system) in separate processes.
  • Plugins augment Ansible’s core functionality and execute on the control node within the /usr/bin/ansible process. Plugins offer options and extensions for the core features of Ansible - transforming data, logging output, connecting to inventory, and more.

Adding a module locally

Ansible automatically loads all executable files found in certain directories as modules, so you can create or add a local module in any of these locations:

  • any directory added to the ANSIBLE_LIBRARY environment variable ($ANSIBLE_LIBRARY takes a colon-separated list like $PATH)
  • ~/.ansible/plugins/modules/
  • /usr/share/ansible/plugins/modules/

Once you save your module file in one of these locations, Ansible will load it and you can use it in any local task, playbook, or role.

To confirm that my_custom_module is available:

  • type ansible-doc -t module my_custom_module. You should see the documentation for that module.

To use a local module only in certain playbooks:

  • store it in a sub-directory called library in the directory that contains the playbook(s)

To use a local module only in a single role:

  • store it in a sub-directory called library within that role

Adding a plugin locally

Ansible loads plugins automatically too, loading each type of plugin separately from a directory named for the type of plugin. Here’s the full list of plugin directory names:

  • action_plugins*
  • cache_plugins
  • callback_plugins
  • connection_plugins
  • filter_plugins*
  • inventory_plugins
  • lookup_plugins
  • shell_plugins
  • strategy_plugins
  • test_plugins*
  • vars_plugins

You can create or add a local plugin in any of these locations:

  • any directory added to the relevant ANSIBLE_plugin_type_PLUGINS environment variable (these variables, such as $ANSIBLE_INVENTORY_PLUGINS and $ANSIBLE_VARS_PLUGINS take colon-separated lists like $PATH)
  • the directory named for the correct plugin_type within ~/.ansible/plugins/ - for example, ~/.ansible/plugins/callback
  • the directory named for the correct plugin_type within /usr/share/ansible/plugins/ - for example, /usr/share/ansible/plugins/action

Once your plugin file is in one of these locations, Ansible will load it and you can use it in a any local module, task, playbook, or role.

To confirm that plugins/plugin_type/my_custom_plugin is available:

  • type ansible-doc -t <plugin_type> my_custom_lookup_plugin. For example, ansible-doc -t lookup my_custom_lookup_plugin. You should see the documentation for that plugin. This works for all plugin types except the ones marked with * in the list above - see ansible-doc for more details.

To use your local plugin only in certain playbooks:

  • store it in a sub-directory for the correct plugin_type (for example, callback_plugins or inventory_plugins) in the directory that contains the playbook(s)

To use your local plugin only in a single role:

  • store it in a sub-directory for the correct plugin_type (for example, cache_plugins or strategy_plugins) within that role

When shipped as part of a role, the plugin will be available as soon as the role is called in the play.