Framework to test Ansible roles with serverspec on multiple systems
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Testing Ansible Roles

This framework provides the necessary files and configurations to easily setup your environment for testing ansible-roles. It uses test-kitchen, docker (or vagrant) and serverspec to test your roles on multiple operating systems. It also supports automated travis-tests out of the box.


Install the following software:

  • Git
  • Ruby
  • Docker


  • VirtualBox
  • Vagrant

Docker images

This setup user custom docker images. These docker images only derive from the base images as they have Ansible pre-installed, thus saving the time to install it!


Create a directory for your role you want to test (called ansible_role in the following example). The name directory and the name of the role have to be the same! Git-clone the testing-framework into your newly created directory, change into it and delete the now useless .git directory:

# basic setup
mkdir ansible_role
git clone ansible_role/
cd ansible_role/
rm -fr .git/

Create an empty role with ansible-galaxy. Run inside your role-directory, replace ansible_role with the name you gave the directory.

# create empty ansible role
ansible-galaxy init --force ../ansible_role

Install test-kitchen, serverspec, the provisioner, driver and all its dependencies, with the help of bundler:

# Install software and dependencies
gem install bundler
bundle install

Customize your testing-setup. Replace the default name ansible-test-framework with the name of your role (in this example ansible_role) in two places:

  • default.yml -> replacement should be in the roles_path.
  • .kitchen.yml -> replacement should be the first item after roles.
  • .travis.yml -> replacement should be under # syntax-check, # Test role. and # test role idempotence.

You can also use this sed-command to replace the occurences. Just replace ansible_role in the command with the name of your role.

# replace ansible-test-framework with your role-name in:
sed -i 's/ansible-test-framework/ansible_role/g' default.yml .kitchen.yml .kitchen.vagrant.yml .travis.yml

Write the role and tests

Write your ansible role and tests now. There's already a file called test_spec.rb where you can write your tests in and the spec_helper is configured for serverspec.

For more help writing tests and using serverspec, read the docs:

Testing with Docker

You will have to install Docker on your system. See Get started for a Docker package suitable to for your system.

You can test single machines, a set of machines or all at once. See the following examples or take a look at the test-kitchen docs.

If you are using Docker for Windows, make sure you are using the correct socket settings.

# fast test on one machine
bundle exec kitchen test ansible-centos7-ansible-latest

# test on all machines in parallel
bundle exec kitchen test -c

# test all ubuntu machines
bundle exec kitchen test ubuntu

Testing with Virtualbox

You can also use vagrant and Virtualbox or VMWare to run tests locally. You will have to install Virtualbox and Vagrant on your system. See Vagrant Downloads for a vagrant package suitable for your system.

# fast test on one machine
KITCHEN_YAML=".kitchen.vagrant.yml" bundle exec kitchen test ansible-ubuntu-1604

# test on all machines in parallel
KITCHEN_YAML=".kitchen.vagrant.yml" bundle exec kitchen test -c

# test all ubuntu machines
KITCHEN_YAML=".kitchen.vagrant.yml" bundle exec kitchen test ubuntu


  • While developing roles it can be cumbersome to always destroy and recreate the machines if a test or the role fails at some point. To circumvent this, you can create and then converge the machine. If the role fails during converging, you can simply run the converge again:
# for development

bundle exec kitchen create ansible-latest-ubuntu-1604
bundle exec kitchen converge ansible-latest-ubuntu-1604

# ... run fails, change role, converge again

bundle exec kitchen converge ansible-latest-ubuntu-1604
  • If your role takes a long time to run and you want to debug a specific task, you can run the converge with the help of an environment variable like this:
ANSIBLE_EXTRA_FLAGS='--start-at-task="ansible_role | name of last working instruction"' bundle exec kitchen converge

Replace ansible_role | name of last working instruction with the name of the task you want to start at, so you can skip others.

  • Similary if you want to skip certain tasks, you can use the environment variable like this:
ANSIBLE_EXTRA_FLAGS='--skip-tags=beginning' bundle exec kitchen converge