Documentation

Playbook Debugger

Ansible includes a debugger as part of the strategy plugins. This debugger enables you to debug as task. You have access to all of the features of the debugger in the context of the task. You can then, for example, check or set the value of variables, update module arguments, and re-run the task with the new variables and arguments to help resolve the cause of the failure.

There are multiple ways to invoke the debugger.

Using the debugger keyword

New in version 2.5.

The debugger keyword can be used on any block where you provide a name attribute, such as a play, role, block or task.

The debugger keyword accepts several values:

always
Always invoke the debugger, regardless of the outcome
never
Never invoke the debugger, regardless of the outcome
on_failed
Only invoke the debugger if a task fails
on_unreachable
Only invoke the debugger if the a host was unreachable
on_skipped
Only invoke the debugger if the task is skipped

These options override any global configuration to enable or disable the debugger.

On a task

- name: Execute a command
  command: false
  debugger: on_failed

On a play

- name: Play
  hosts: all
  debugger: on_skipped
  tasks:
    - name: Execute a command
      command: true
      when: False

When provided at a generic level and a more specific level, the more specific wins:

- name: Play
  hosts: all
  debugger: never
  tasks:
    - name: Execute a command
      command: false
      debugger: on_failed

Configuration or environment variable

New in version 2.5.

In ansible.cfg:

[defaults]
enable_task_debugger = True

As an environment variable:

ANSIBLE_ENABLE_TASK_DEBUGGER=True ansible-playbook -i hosts site.yml

When using this method, any failed or unreachable task will invoke the debugger, unless otherwise explicitly disabled.

As a Strategy

Note

This is a backwards compatible method, to match Ansible versions before 2.5, and may be remoevd in a future release

To use the debug strategy, change the strategy attribute like this:

- hosts: test
  strategy: debug
  tasks:
  ...

If you don’t want change the code, you can define ANSIBLE_STRATEGY=debug environment variable in order to enable the debugger, or modify ansible.cfg such as:

[defaults]
strategy = debug

Examples

For example, run the playbook below:

- hosts: test
  debugger: on_failed
  gather_facts: no
  vars:
    var1: value1
  tasks:
    - name: wrong variable
      ping: data={{ wrong_var }}

The debugger is invoked since the wrong_var variable is undefined.

Let’s change the module’s arguments and run the task again

PLAY ***************************************************************************

TASK [wrong variable] **********************************************************
fatal: [192.0.2.10]: FAILED! => {"failed": true, "msg": "ERROR! 'wrong_var' is undefined"}
Debugger invoked
[192.0.2.10] TASK: wrong variable (debug)> p result._result
{'failed': True,
 'msg': 'The task includes an option with an undefined variable. The error '
        "was: 'wrong_var' is undefined\n"
        '\n'
        'The error appears to have been in '
        "'playbooks/debugger.yml': line 7, "
        'column 7, but may\n'
        'be elsewhere in the file depending on the exact syntax problem.\n'
        '\n'
        'The offending line appears to be:\n'
        '\n'
        '  tasks:\n'
        '    - name: wrong variable\n'
        '      ^ here\n'}
[192.0.2.10] TASK: wrong variable (debug)> p task.args
{u'data': u'{{ wrong_var }}'}
[192.0.2.10] TASK: wrong variable (debug)> task.args['data'] = '{{ var1 }}'
[192.0.2.10] TASK: wrong variable (debug)> p task.args
{u'data': '{{ var1 }}'}
[192.0.2.10] TASK: wrong variable (debug)> redo
ok: [192.0.2.10]

PLAY RECAP *********************************************************************
192.0.2.10               : ok=1    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0

This time, the task runs successfully!

Available Commands

p(print) task/task_vars/host/result

Print values used to execute a module:

[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> p task
TASK: install package
[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> p task.args
{u'name': u'{{ pkg_name }}'}
[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> p task_vars
{u'ansible_all_ipv4_addresses': [u'192.0.2.10'],
 u'ansible_architecture': u'x86_64',
 ...
}
[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> p task_vars['pkg_name']
u'bash'
[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> p host
192.0.2.10
[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> p result._result
{'_ansible_no_log': False,
 'changed': False,
 u'failed': True,
 ...
 u'msg': u"No package matching 'not_exist' is available"}

task.args[key] = value

Update module’s argument.

If you run a playbook like this:

- hosts: test
  strategy: debug
  gather_facts: yes
  vars:
    pkg_name: not_exist
  tasks:
    - name: install package
      apt: name={{ pkg_name }}

Debugger is invoked due to wrong package name, so let’s fix the module’s args:

[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> p task.args
{u'name': u'{{ pkg_name }}'}
[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> task.args['name'] = 'bash'
[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> p task.args
{u'name': 'bash'}
[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> redo

Then the task runs again with new args.

task_vars[key] = value

Update task_vars.

Let’s use the same playbook above, but fix task_vars instead of args:

[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> p task_vars['pkg_name']
u'not_exist'
[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> task_vars['pkg_name'] = 'bash'
[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> p task_vars['pkg_name']
'bash'
[192.0.2.10] TASK: install package (debug)> redo

Then the task runs again with new task_vars.

Note

In 2.5 this was updated from vars to task_vars to not conflict with the vars() python function.

r(edo)

Run the task again.

c(ontinue)

Just continue.

q(uit)

Quit from the debugger. The playbook execution is aborted.

Use with the free strategy

Using the debugger on the free strategy will cause no further tasks to be queued or executed while the debugger is active. Additionally, using redo on a task to schedule it for re-execution may cause the rescheduled task to execute after subsequent tasks listed in your playbook.

See also

Playbooks
An introduction to playbooks
User Mailing List
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