Ever since I heard about the new 'Beta' Windows Subsystem for Linux, which basically installs an Ubuntu LTS release inside of Windows 10 (currently 14.04), I've been meaning to give it a spin, and see if it can be a worthy replacement for Cygwin, Git shell, Cmder, etc. And what I was most interested in was whether I could finally point people to a more stable and friendly way of using Ansible on a Windows workstation.
In the past, there was the option of running Ansible inside Cygwin (and this is still the best way to try getting Ansible working in an older Windows environment), but this always felt kludgy to me, and I hated having to recommend either that or forcing Windows users to do a full Linux VM installation just to run Ansible commands. I finally updated my PC laptop to the latest Windows 10 Anniversary Update, and installed the Windows Subsystem for Linux, and lo and behold, Ansible works!
In this blog post, I'll show you how to install and use Ansible on Windows 10.
Installing Bash on Windows 10
For reference, here are the official instructions from Microsoft: Bash on Ubuntu on Windows - Installation Guide.
Before installing the Linux Subsystem, you have to have:
- Windows 10 (Anniversary update or later version)
- 64-bit installation (can't run on 32-bit systems)
Once you verify your system is 64-bit and up to date, you have to do a few manual steps to enable the 'Windows Subsystem for Linux':
- Open 'Settings' (the cog in the start menu)
- Click 'Update & Security', then click the 'For developers' option on the left.
- Toggle the 'Developer mode' option, and accept any warnings Windows pops up.
Wait a minute for Windows to install a few things in the background (it will eventually let you know a restart may be required for changes to take effect—ignore that for now). Next, to install the actual Linux Subsystem, you have to jump over to 'Control Panel' (why is this separate from 'Settings'?), and do the following:
- Click on 'Programs'
- Click on 'Turn Windows features on or off'
- Scroll down and check 'Windows Subsystem for Linux (Beta)', and then click OK.
The subsystem will be installed, then Windows will require a reboot. Reboot, then open up the start menu and enter 'bash' (to open up 'Bash' installation in a new command prompt). Fill out all the questions (it will have you create a separate user account for the Linux subsystem), and once that's all done (it takes a few minutes to install), you will finally have Ubuntu running on your Windows laptop, somewhat integrated with Windows.
To install Ansible, since we're basically in an Ubuntu environment, it's as simple as installing pip, then installing Ansible:
- Open a bash prompt (from start menu, type 'bash' and hit enter).
- Install Pip:
sudo apt-get -y install python-pip python-dev libffi-dev libssl-dev
- Install Ansible:
pip install ansible --user(
--userinstalls packages local to the user account instead of globally to avoid permissions issues with Pip and the Linux Subsystem)
- Since the
ansible*commands are installed under
~/.local/bin, we need to add that to the $PATH, so run the command:
echo 'PATH=$HOME/.local/bin:$PATH' >> ~/.bashrc
- Either exit out of the bash prompt and start it again from the Windows menu, or run
source .bashrcto update your
$PATHto include Ansible.
Note the use of
pip installcommand; due to some peculiarities of the way the Linux subsystem works, Pip can't easily install packages globally, so we install packages just for the user account we set up for bash.
At this point,
which ansible should show the path to Ansible,
ansible --version should show you Ansible's version, and you should be able to use
ansible and the rest of the command-line tools (e.g.
ansible-galaxy, etc.) as you would on any common environment.
If you get the error message
ImportError: No module named markupsafe, try installing markupsafe manually with
pip install markupsafe --user. See this GitHub issue for more detail.
If you want to run a playbook that's stored in your Windows user account's Documents folder (e.g.
C:\Users\jgeerling\Documents), you can do so by navigating to
jgeerling is your username). Windows drives are mounted in the Subsystem inside the
/mnt directory. Let's create a test playbook and see if it works!
- Open a bash prompt, and
cdinto your Windows user's Documents directory:
- Create a new test playbook:
User nano or some other editor to add the following contents:
--- - hosts: localhost tasks: - debug: msg="Ansible is working!"
- Run the playbook with the command
ansible-playbook test.yml --connection=local
Ansible should run the command and print out the debug message. Ansible might warn about no inventory file being present, but since you're using
localhost host should automatically work.
Now that you have Ansible installed, you can start automating everything (even including the rest of the bash environment)! If you need to, you can generate an SSH key for use connecting to servers, use
ssh to directly connect to servers, etc. It's basically a full Ubuntu LTS install running inside Windows!