Ansible and Windows Playbooks

Reading time: 3 – 5 minutes

Firstly let me introduce a Windows service called: “Windows Remote Manager” or “WinRM”. This is the Windows feature that allows remote control of Windows machines and many other remote functionalities. In my case I have a Windows 7 laptop with SP1 and PowerShell v3 installed.

Secondly don’t forget that Ansible is developed using Python then a Python library have to manage the WinRM protocol. I’m talking about “pywinrm“. Using this library it’s easy to create simple scripts like that:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import winrm

s = winrm.Session('10.2.0.42', auth=('the_username', 'the_password'))
r = s.run_cmd('ipconfig', ['/all'])
print r.status_code
print r.std_out
print r.std_err

This is a remote call to the command “ipconfig /all” to see the Windows machine network configuration. The output is something like:

$ ./winrm_ipconfig.py 
0

Windows IP Configuration

   Host Name . . . . . . . . . . . . : mini7w
   Primary Dns Suffix  . . . . . . . : 
   Node Type . . . . . . . . . . . . : Hybrid
   IP Routing Enabled. . . . . . . . : No
   WINS Proxy Enabled. . . . . . . . : No
   DNS Suffix Search List. . . . . . : ymbi.net

Ethernet adapter GigaBit + HUB USB:

   Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . : ymbi.net
   Description . . . . . . . . . . . : ASIX AX88179 USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
   Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : 00-23-56-1C-XX-XX
   DHCP Enabled. . . . . . . . . . . : Yes
   Autoconfiguration Enabled . . . . : Yes
   Link-local IPv6 Address . . . . . : fe80::47e:c2c:8c25:xxxx%103(Preferred) 
   IPv4 Address. . . . . . . . . . . : 10.2.0.42(Preferred) 
   Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.192
   Lease Obtained. . . . . . . . . . : mi�rcoles, 28 de enero de 2015 12:41:41
   Lease Expires . . . . . . . . . . : mi�rcoles, 28 de enero de 2015 19:17:56
   Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 10.2.0.1
   DHCP Server . . . . . . . . . . . : 10.2.0.1
   DHCPv6 IAID . . . . . . . . . . . : 2063606614
   DHCPv6 Client DUID. . . . . . . . : 00-01-00-01-15-F7-BF-36-xx-C5-xx-03-xx-xx
   DNS Servers . . . . . . . . . . . : 10.2.0.27
                                       10.2.0.1
   NetBIOS over Tcpip. . . . . . . . : Enabled
...

Of course, it’s possible to run Powershell scripts like the next one which shows the system memory:

$strComputer = $Host
Clear
$RAM = WmiObject Win32_ComputerSystem
$MB = 1048576

"Installed Memory: " + [int]($RAM.TotalPhysicalMemory /$MB) + " MB"

The Python code to run that script is:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import winrm

ps_script = open('scripts/mem.ps1','r').read()
s = winrm.Session('10.2.0.42', auth=('the_username', 'the_password'))
r = s.run_ps(ps_script)
print r.status_code
print r.std_out
print r.std_err

and the output:

$ ./winrm_mem.py 
0
Installed Memory: 2217 MB

In the end it’s time to talk about how to create an Ansible Playbook to deploy anything in a Windows machine. As always the first thing that we need is a hosts file. In the next example there are several ansible variables needed to run Ansible Windows modules on WinRM, all of them are self-explanatory:

[all]
10.2.0.42

[all:vars]
ansible_ssh_user=the_username
ansible_ssh_pass=the_password
ansible_ssh_port=5985 #winrm (non-ssl) port
ansible_connection=winrm

The first basic example could be a simple playbook that runs the ‘ipconfig’ command and registers the output in an Ansible variable to be showed later like a debug information:

- name: test raw module
  hosts: all
  tasks:
    - name: run ipconfig
      raw: ipconfig
      register: ipconfig
    - debug: var=ipconfig

The command and the output to run latest example:

$ ansible-playbook -i hosts ipconfig.yml 

PLAY [test raw module] ******************************************************** 

GATHERING FACTS *************************************************************** 
ok: [10.2.0.42]

TASK: [run ipconfig] ********************************************************** 
ok: [10.2.0.42]

TASK: [debug var=ipconfig] **************************************************** 
ok: [10.2.0.42] => {
    "ipconfig": {
        "invocation": {
            "module_args": "ipconfig", 
            "module_name": "raw"
        }, 
        "rc": 0, 
        "stderr": "", 
        "stdout": "\r\nWindows IP Configuration\r\n\r\n\r\nEthernet adapter GigaBit 
...
        ]
    }
}

PLAY RECAP ******************************************************************** 
10.2.0.42                  : ok=3    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0 

As always Ansible have several modules, not only the ‘raw’ module. I committed two examples in my Github account using a module to download URLs and another one that runs Powershell scripts.

My examples are done using Ansible 1.8.2 installed in a Fedora 20. But main problems I’ve found are configuring Windows 7 to accept WinRM connections. Next I attach some references that helped me a lot:

If you want to use my tests code you can connect to my Github: Basic Ansible playbooks for Windows.