Using collections

Collections are a distribution format for Ansible content that can include playbooks, roles, modules, and plugins. You can install and use collections through Ansible Galaxy.

Installing collections

You can use the ansible-galaxy collection install command to install a collection on your system.

To install a collection hosted in Galaxy:

ansible-galaxy collection install my_namespace.my_collection

You can also directly use the tarball from your build:

ansible-galaxy collection install my_namespace-my_collection-1.0.0.tar.gz -p ./collections


The install command automatically appends the path ansible_collections to the one specified with the -p option unless the parent directory is already in a folder called ansible_collections.

When using the -p option to specify the install path, use one of the values configured in COLLECTIONS_PATHS, as this is where Ansible itself will expect to find collections. If you don’t specify a path, ansible-galaxy collection install installs the collection to the first path defined in COLLECTIONS_PATHS, which by default is ~/.ansible/collections

You can also keep a collection adjacent to the current playbook, under a collections/ansible_collections/ directory structure.

├── collections/
│   └── ansible_collections/
│               └── my_namespace/
│                   └── my_collection/<collection structure lives here>

See Collection structure for details on the collection directory structure.

Installing an older version of a collection

By default ansible-galaxy installs the latest collection that is available but you can add a version range identifier to install a specific version.

To install the 1.0.0 version of the collection:

ansible-galaxy collection install my_namespace.my_collection:1.0.0

To install the 1.0.0-beta.1 version of the collection:

ansible-galaxy collection install my_namespace.my_collection:==1.0.0-beta.1

To install the collections that are greater than or equal to 1.0.0 or less than 2.0.0:

ansible-galaxy collection install my_namespace.my_collection:>=1.0.0,<2.0.0

You can specify multiple range identifiers which are split by ,. You can use the following range identifiers:

  • *: Any version, this is the default used when no range specified is set.
  • !=: Version is not equal to the one specified.
  • ==: Version must be the one specified.
  • >=: Version is greater than or equal to the one specified.
  • >: Version is greater than the one specified.
  • <=: Version is less than or equal to the one specified.
  • <: Version is less than the one specified.


The ansible-galaxy command ignores any pre-release versions unless the == range identifier is used to explicitly set to that pre-release version.

Install multiple collections with a requirements file

You can also setup a requirements.yml file to install multiple collections in one command. This file is a YAML file in the format:

# With just the collection name
- my_namespace.my_collection

# With the collection name, version, and source options
- name: my_namespace.my_other_collection
  version: 'version range identifiers (default: ``*``)'
  source: 'The Galaxy URL to pull the collection from (default: ``--api-server`` from cmdline)'

The version key can take in the same range identifier format documented above.

Roles can also be specified and placed under the roles key. The values follow the same format as a requirements file used in older Ansible releases.


While both roles and collections can be specified in one requirements file, they need to be installed separately. The ansible-galaxy role install -r requirements.yml will only install roles and ansible-galaxy collection install -r requirements.yml -p ./ will only install collections.

Galaxy server configuration list

By default running ansible-galaxy will use the GALAXY_SERVER config value or the --server command line argument when it performs an action against a Galaxy server. The ansible-galaxy collection install supports installing collections from multiple servers as defined in the The configuration file file using the GALAXY_SERVER_LIST configuration option. To define multiple Galaxy servers you have to create the following entries like so:

server_list = automation_hub, my_org_hub, release_galaxy, test_galaxy






You can use the --server command line argument to select an explicit Galaxy server in the server_list and the value of this arg should match the name of the server. If the value of --server is not a pre-defined server in ansible.cfg then the value specified will be the URL used to access that server and all pre-defined servers are ignored. Also the --api-key argument is not applied to any of the pre-defined servers, it is only applied if no server list is defined or a URL was specified by --server.

The GALAXY_SERVER_LIST option is a list of server identifiers in a prioritized order. When searching for a collection, the install process will search in that order, e.g. my_org_hub first, then release_galaxy, and finally test_galaxy until the collection is found. The actual Galaxy instance is then defined under the section [galaxy_server.{{ id }}] where {{ id }} is the server identifier defined in the list. This section can then define the following keys:

  • url: The URL of the galaxy instance to connect to, this is required.
  • token: A token key to use for authentication against the Galaxy instance, this is mutually exclusive with username
  • username: The username to use for basic authentication against the Galaxy instance, this is mutually exclusive with token
  • password: The password to use for basic authentication
  • auth_url: The URL of a Keycloak server ‘token_endpoint’ if using SSO auth (Automation Hub for ex). This is mutually exclusive with username. auth_url requires token.

As well as being defined in the ansible.cfg file, these server options can be defined as an environment variable. The environment variable is in the form ANSIBLE_GALAXY_SERVER_{{ id }}_{{ key }} where {{ id }} is the upper case form of the server identifier and {{ key }} is the key to define. For example I can define token for release_galaxy by setting ANSIBLE_GALAXY_SERVER_RELEASE_GALAXY_TOKEN=secret_token.

For operations where only one Galaxy server is used, i.e. publish, info, login then the first entry in the server_list is used unless an explicit server was passed in as a command line argument.


Once a collection is found, any of its requirements are only searched within the same Galaxy instance as the parent collection. The install process will not search for a collection requirement in a different Galaxy instance.

Using collections in a Playbook

Once installed, you can reference a collection content by its fully qualified collection name (FQCN):

- hosts: all
    - my_namespace.my_collection.mymodule:
        option1: value

This works for roles or any type of plugin distributed within the collection:

- hosts: all
    - import_role:
        name: my_namespace.my_collection.role1

    - my_namespace.mycollection.mymodule:
        option1: value

    - debug:
        msg: '{{ lookup("my_namespace.my_collection.lookup1", 'param1')| my_namespace.my_collection.filter1 }}'

To avoid a lot of typing, you can use the collections keyword added in Ansible 2.8:

- hosts: all
   - my_namespace.my_collection
    - import_role:
        name: role1

    - mymodule:
        option1: value

    - debug:
        msg: '{{ lookup("my_namespace.my_collection.lookup1", 'param1')| my_namespace.my_collection.filter1 }}'

This keyword creates a ‘search path’ for non namespaced plugin references. It does not import roles or anything else. Notice that you still need the FQCN for non-action or module plugins.

See also

Developing collections
Develop or modify a collection.
Collection Galaxy metadata structure
Understand the collections metadata structure.
Mailing List
The development mailing list
#ansible IRC chat channel