An Ansible role for installing and configuring Unison with which to synchronize a remote host with the local host.
Switch branches/tags
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.



Install and configure a Unison file synchronization between the Ansible host and the deploy target.

NOTE: As of right now, this only really works when the remote host is a Vagrant machine, due to the SSH configuration being extracted straight from Vagrant. It wouldn't be too much work to generalize this to optionally take in manually-written SSH config files, but for now this is it.


Applying this role to a host also creates some configuration files locally with which to configure Unison. Specifically, the directory specified by the unison_local_config_directory variable is created (if necessary), and a Unison preferences file and an SSH config file for this host are generated in that directory.

Installing Unison

In order for Unison to perform on the local host, Unison must be installed there. While full instructions are outside the scope of this document, for Apple OSX users with Homebrew installed, Unison is available there:

brew install unison

Unison Versions

It's said that if you don't have the same version of Unison on both ends of the sync, then Bad Things can happen. The Ansible variables unison_package_repository and unison_package_version define where to find Unison for the remote host, and care should be taken to make sure these match the version installed on the local host. The installed version of Unison can be checked with:

unison -version

Starting and Stopping Unison

Applying this role configures the local and remote hosts for a Unison sync, but to initiate and maintain the sync you have to invoke Unison from the local host (substituting your value for unison_project_name):

unison unison_project_name

This will only keep the two hosts synced as long as this command is left running.

Unison can be halted with control-c.

Dealing with Unison Errors

In the following scenario:

  • Running VM with Unison running
  • Stop Unison
  • Destroy the VM and recreate it
  • Restart Unison as described above

Unison will error out, complaining about an inconsistent state, a missing archive on the remote host, and a local archive (it looks like a big hash string) that should be deleted. Take it's advice and delete the local archive (substituting in the hash of the offending local archive in Unison's error message for offending_local_archive):

rm -r ~/.unison/offending_local_archive

Once this is resolved, Unison can be started like normal.


Unison must be installed (see above).

Role Variables

  • unison_project_name: false # Must be explicitly overridden. The target name which Unison will use as a shorthand for this sync.
  • unison_local_mount_directory: . # The directory on the localhost with which to sync the remote directory defined by unison_remote_mount_directory.
  • unison_remote_mount_directory: /vagrant # The directory to create and keep synced on the remote host. Note that it will be modified when Unison is executed!
  • unison_local_config_directory: ~/.unison # Where on the local host is Unison expecting its configuration files to live?
  • unison_package_repository: ppa:eugenesan/ppa # The package repository with which to install Unison.
  • unison_package_version: 2.48.4-0eugenesantrusty1 # The deb package version for Unison (this should be synchronzied pretty closely to the Ansible host's version)



Example Playbook

- hosts:
    - some-hosts-or-groups
  become: true
    - {role: triplepoint.unison, unison_project_name: "some_project_name"}