Ansible – How to run a portion of a playbook using tags.

If you have a large playbook it may become useful to be able to run a specific part of it or only a single task without running the whole playbook. Both plays and tasks support a “tags:” attribute for this reason.

In this specific scenario, I have a playbook which configures all productions servers from the moment the servers boot till they start taking traffic. While testing the plays in dev environment, I was debugging an issue on the parts which does dns configuration. This is where the “tags” attributes comes handy –

1. Tag the task –

...
- name: Configure resolv.conf
  template: src=resolv.conf.j2 dest=/etc/resolv.conf
  when: ansible_hostname != "ns1"
  tags:
    - dnsconfig
...

2. Run only the tasks tagged with a specific name –

root@linubuvma:/etc/ansible# ansible-playbook -i dc1/hosts dc1/site.yml --tags "dnsconfig" --check

PLAY [Setup data center 1 servers] *****************************************************

TASK: [common | Configure resolv.conf] ****************************************
skipping: [ns1]
changed: [docker]
ok: [ns2]
ok: [whitehat]
ok: [mail]
ok: [www]
ok: [ftp]

PLAY RECAP ********************************************************************
whitehat                   : ok=1    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0
docker                     : ok=1    changed=1    unreachable=0    failed=0
ns1                        : ok=0    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0
ns2                        : ok=1    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0
mail                        : ok=1    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0
www                   : ok=1    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0
ftp                   : ok=1    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0

Ansible playbook will run only the task with the specified tag, it will skip the rest of the tasks in the playbook. Use the ‘–list-tags’ flag to view all the tags.

References –

http://docs.ansible.com/playbooks_tags.html

https://www.percona.com/live/mysql-conference-2015/sites/default/files/slides/Ansible.pdf

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