Set command output as facts with ansible

Having to check ntp configuration on a distributed cluster, I had to parse the “`timedatectl“` output into a dict and apply various checks.

I did this via the (infamous) 😉 jinja templates|pipelines.

# This is the check_time.yml playbook.

- name: Register the timedatectl output even in check mode. This command doesn't modify server configuration.
  shell: "timedatectl | grep ': '"
  check_mode: no
  register: timedatectl_output

# Note that:
#  - to use timedatectl_output into with_items we need to QUOTE-AND-BRACE it
#  - we can default the previously indefined timedatectl_status dictionary via
#       variable | default(VALUE)
#  - 
- name: Process timedatectl_output lines one at a time and update repeatedly the timedatectl_status variable using combine().
    timedatectl_status: >
        timedatectl_status | default({}) |
          dict([ item.partition(': ')[::2]|map('trim') ])
  with_items: "{{timedatectl_output.stdout_lines}}"

Now we can check 😉

- name: Clock synchronized
  fail: msg="Clock unsynchronized {{timedatectl_status}}"
  when: "{{timedatectl_status['NTP synchronized'] == 'no' }}"

- name: All hw clocks are utc
  fail: msg="hwclock not utc {{timedatectl_status}}"
  when: "{{timedatectl_status['RTC in local TZ'] == 'no' }}"

Terraforming the clouds

Terraform is an infrastructure configuration manager by HashiCorp (Vagrant) like CloudFormation or Heat, supporting
various infrastructure providers including Amazon, VirtuaBox, …

Terraform reads *.tf and creates an execution plan containing all resources:

– instances
– volumes
– networks
– ..

You can check an example configuration here on github:

Unfortunately, it uses a custom but readable format instead of yaml.

# Create a 75GB volume on openstack
resource "openstack_blockstorage_volume_v1" "master-docker-vol" {
  name = "mastervol"
  size = 75

# Create a nova vm with the given colume attached
resource "openstack_compute_instance_v2" "machine" {
  name = "test"
  region = "${var.openstack_region}"
  image_id = "${var.master_image_id}"
  flavor_name = "${var.master_instance_size}"
  availability_zone = "${var.openstack_availability_zone}"
  key_pair = "${var.openstack_keypair}"
  security_groups = ["default"]
  metadata {
    ssh_user = "cloud-user"
  volume {
    volume_id = "${}"

Further resources (eg. openstack volumes|floating_ip, digitalocean droplets, docker containers, ..)
can be defined via plugins.

At the end of every deployment cycle, terraform updates the `terraform.tstate` state file (which may
be stored on s3 or on shared storage) describing the actual infrastructure.

Upon configuration changes, terraform creates and shows a new execution plan,
that you can eventually apply.

As there’s no ansible provisioner, a script can be used to extract an inventory file from a `terraform.tstate`.