Documentation

Windows Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions in regards to Ansible and Windows and their answers.

Note

This document covers questions about managing Microsoft Windows servers with Ansible. For questions about Ansible Core, please see the FAQ page.

Does Ansible work with Windows XP or Server 2003?

Ansible does not support managing Windows XP or Server 2003 hosts. The supported operating system versions are:

  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 10

Ansible also has minimum PowerShell version requirements - please see Setting up a Windows Host for the latest information.

Can I Manage Windows Nano Server?

Windows Nano Server is not currently supported by Ansible, since it does not have access to the full .NET Framework that is used by the majority of the modules and internal components.

Can Ansible run on Windows?

No, Ansible cannot run on a Windows host natively and can only manage Windows hosts, but Ansible can be run under the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

Note

The Windows Subsystem for Linux is not supported by Ansible and should not be used for production systems.

To install Ansible on WSL, the following commands can be run in the bash terminal:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python-pip git libffi-dev libssl-dev -y
pip install ansible pywinrm

To run Ansible from source instead of a release on the WSL, simply uninstall the pip installed version and then clone the git repo.

pip uninstall ansible -y
git clone https://github.com/ansible/ansible.git
source ansible/hacking/env-setup

# to enable Ansible on login, run the following
echo ". ~/ansible/hacking/env-setup -q' >> ~/.bashrc

Can I use SSH keys to authenticate?

Windows uses WinRM as the transport protocol. WinRM supports a wide range of authentication options. The closet option to SSH keys is to use the certificate authentication option which maps an X509 certificate to a local user.

The way that these certificates are generated and mapped to a user is different from the SSH implementation; consult the Windows Remote Management documentation for more information.

Why can I run a command locally that does not work under Ansible?

Ansible executes commands through WinRM. These processes are different from running a command locally in these ways:

  • Unless using an authentication option like CredSSP or Kerberos with credential delegation, the WinRM process does not have the ability to delegate the user’s credentials to a network resource, causing Access is Denied errors.
  • All processes run under WinRM are in a non-interactive session. Applications that require an interactive session will not work.
  • When running through WinRM, Windows restricts access to internal Windows APIs like the Windows Update API and DPAPI, which some installers and programs rely on.

Some ways to bypass these restrictions are to:

  • Use become, which runs a command as it would when run locally. This will bypass most WinRM restrictions, as Windows is unaware the process is running under WinRM when become is used. See the Understanding Privilege Escalation documentation for more information.
  • Use a scheduled task, which can be created with win_scheduled_task. Like become, it will bypass all WinRM restrictions, but it can only be used to run commands, not modules.
  • Use win_psexec to run a command on the host. PSExec does not use WinRM and so will bypass any of the restrictions.
  • To access network resources without any of these workarounds, an authentication option that supports credential delegation can be used. Both CredSSP and Kerberos with credential delegation enabled can support this.

See Understanding Privilege Escalation more info on how to use become. The limitations section at Windows Remote Management has more details around WinRM limitations.

This program won’t install with Ansible

See this question for more information about WinRM limitations.

What modules are available?

Most of the Ansible modules in Ansible Core are written for a combination of Linux/Unix machines and arbitrary web services. These modules are written in Python and most of them do not work on Windows.

Because of this, there are dedicated Windows modules that are written in PowerShell and are meant to be run on Windows hosts. A list of these modules can be found here.

In addition, the following Ansible Core modules/action-plugins work with Windows:

  • add_host
  • assert
  • async_status
  • debug
  • fail
  • fetch
  • group_by
  • include
  • include_role
  • include_vars
  • meta
  • pause
  • raw
  • script
  • set_fact
  • set_stats
  • setup
  • slurp
  • template (also: win_template)
  • wait_for_connection

Can I run Python modules?

No, the WinRM connection protocol is set to use PowerShell modules, so Python modules will not work. A way to bypass this issue to use delegate_to: localhost to run a Python module on the Ansible controller. This is useful if during a playbook, an external service needs to be contacted and there is no equivalent Windows module available.

Can I connect over SSH?

Microsoft has announced and is developing a fork of OpenSSH for Windows that allows remote manage of Windows servers through the SSH protocol instead of WinRM. While this can be installed and used right now for normal SSH clients, it is still in beta from Microsoft and the required functionality has not been developed within Ansible yet.

There are future plans on adding this feature and this page will be updated once more information can be shared.

Why is connecting to the host via ssh failing?

When trying to connect to a Windows host and the output error indicates that SSH was used, then this is an indication that the connection vars are not set properly or the host is not inheriting them correctly.

Make sure ansible_connection: winrm is set in the inventory for the Windows host.

Why are my credentials are being rejected?

This can be due to a myriad of reasons unrelated to incorrect credentials.

See HTTP 401/Credentials Rejected at Setting up a Windows Host for a more detailed guide of this could mean.

Why am I getting an error SSL CERTIFICATE_VERIFY_FAILED?

When the Ansible controller is running on Python 2.7.9+ or an older version of Python that has backported SSLContext (like Python 2.7.5 on RHEL 7), the controller will attempt to validate the certificate WinRM is using for an HTTPS connection. If the certificate cannot be validated (such as in the case of a self signed cert), it will fail the verification process.

To ignore certificate validation, add ansible_winrm_server_cert_validation: ignore to inventory for the Windows host.

See also

User Guide
The documentation index
Windows Guides
The Windows documentation index
Working With Playbooks
An introduction to playbooks
Best Practices
Best practices advice
User Mailing List
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