Skip to main content

Ansible - sudoers safety and sanity checking in playbook

23-03-2013 | Remy van Elst | Text only version of this article

Table of Contents

Using Ansible to manage the /etc/sudoers file is fine, except when you have a syntax error in your template. This method helps you to only deploy a correct sudoers file.

This example is tested on Ansible 1.0 and on a Digital Ocean VPS. If you like this tutorial and want to support my website, use this link to order a Digital Ocean VPS:

I manage the sudo config (/etc/sudoers/) via Ansible. My sudo playbook creates an admin group, adds me to that admin group, and sets some variables in /etc/sudoers/. I do not have a sudoers template file, because I created the playbook at a client which has various different sudoers files, which they do not want to have changed ,because of different nagios checks that needed sudo on different hosts. However, if you start of clean, then a template file for /etc/sudoers is the best choice.

This is the playbook:

      - hosts: all
        sudo: True
        user: remy
        connection: ssh # or paramiko

          distro: {{ ansible_distribution }}
          pkg_mgr: {{ ansible_pkg_mgr }}
          pbname: {{ inventory_hostname }}


        - name: Copy sudoers file for safety
          command: cp -f /etc/sudoers /etc/sudoers.tmp

        - name: Create sudoers file backup
          command: cp -f /etc/sudoers /etc/sudoers.bak

        - name: Create admins group
          group: name=admins system=yes state=present

        - name: make sure we can sudo as admin group
          lineinfile: dest=/etc/sudoers.tmp state=present regexp='^%admin' line='%admin ALL=(ALL) ALL'

        - name: also make sure ssh-agent works via sudo
          lineinfile: dest=/etc/sudoers.tmp state=present regexp='^Defaults env_keep\+\=SSH_AUTH_SOCK' line='Defaults env_keep+=SSH_AUTH_SOCK'

        - name: Final sudoers file check
          shell: visudo -q -c -f /etc/sudoers.tmp && cp -f /etc/sudoers.tmp /etc/sudoers
  • We create the admins group, to which all users that need sudo are added by other playbooks.
  • We copy the remote sudoers file to a temp one and perform all actions on the temp sudoers file. We also back up the sudoers file.
  • We enable the admins group to sudo
  • We make sure ssh-agent works via sudo. This was used for a git repository on the root user account, to show our own names in the commits.
  • Finally we use visudo to check if the file is correct, and if so we copy the file over the "original" sudos file.

By using the temp file we make sure we don't have any syntax errors and lock ourselves out of machines, needing to use ILO/DRAC to reset passwords and such. Been there, done that, not funny at all.

Tags: ansible  configuration-management  deployment  python  sudo  sudoers  tutorials  visudo