When setting up a server for the first time with Ansible you will need to pass ssh credentials to Ansible directly to set up ssh keys. This is done by the use of the sshpass program which allows Ansible to pass your user credentials directly to ssh in order to open a connection to the server. The sshpass program is easily installed on Linux systems with the apt or yum package managers, but on OSX you will need to install it manually.
I’ve been using local development environments for years to work on websites. At one points I even setup some Phing scripts to create Apache hosts and databases locally so that I didn’t have to keep adding them myself.
When navigating around a Linux box I tend to find I use the same two commands a lot. The first is 'cd' to change a directory, and the second is 'ls' in order to see what is in the new directory. Rather than do this over and over again I decided to look around for a good solution to automate this.
It is best practice to use Ansible with SSH keys in order to create the SSH connections to the servers. This does require a little bit of extra setup before hand in order to ensure that the server can be reached by Ansible via SSH keys alone. As I have been doing this quite a lot recently I decided to package the setup steps into an Ansible playbook.
Vagrant is a tool that allows the easy creation of virtual machines. It was originally developed for use with VirtualBox, but it has been extended to allow integration with other virtualisation tools. Using Vagrant you can create a particular setup that you can then share with other people without having to give them large virtual disk images.
Ansible is a automation and provisioning tool that makes it easy to configure systems with the needed software, configuration options and even content. It is a command line tool, written in Python, that uses SSH connections to run these actions. This means that all you need to do is have a viable SSH connection to a machine and Ansible will run any actions you want to run. Ansible can either run single commands or use what is called a playbook to run several commands. Ansible playbooks are written in YAML, which makes understanding them quite easy.