DebOps installation

This section of the documentation describes how to install all of the components needed to run DebOps playbooks.

Ansible Controller

DebOps is designed to use Ansible in a "push" model, where Ansible commands are executed on remote hosts from a central machine, the "Ansible Controller". This host can use any OS that Ansible is supported on - Linux, macOS, Windows with the Windows Subsystem for Linux, etc. Use of an OS that can be managed using DebOps (Debian, Ubuntu) might be preferable in the long run, however.

DebOps doesn't use any active services on the Ansible Controller host in the infrastructure that is managed, therefore you might consider a laptop or a virtual machine which can be turned off or put offline when not in use, for better security. You should consider usage of an encrypted filesystem for DebOps project directories due to sensitive nature of some of the data stored in the secret/ directory, like passwords, Certificate Authority files, etc.


Current, stable Ansible release is required to run DebOps playbooks and roles. Older Ansible releases may work for a time, but support for them is not guaranteed by the project.

Ansible can be installed in a variety of methods, you can choose your preferred one depending on the platform you use for the Ansible Controller. There are some caveats on specific platforms, described below.


On Debian Stretch, you can use the ansible package from the stretch-backports repository; Ansible version included in the Stretch release is not sufficient anymore.

On older Debian releases, you should consider installing Ansible by creating a .deb package from the official git repository sources. You can find a bootstrap-ansible script which can do this for you automatically in the debops.ansible Ansible role files/ subdirectory.


The debops Python package which contains scripts and modules used by the project is currently available only through PyPI. Due to this, Ansible installed using Homebrew might not work correctly with DebOps playbooks and/or roles. In that case, you should install Ansible from PyPI.

The debops.pki role requires Bash 4.x on the Ansible Controller for the management of the internal Certificate Authority. On macOS, you might need to upgrade an existing Bash 3.x installation before using DebOps.

Additional software

Some of the DebOps roles may depend on additional software installed on the Ansible Controller. Some of these packages are available by default, the rest can usually be installed using a system package manager.

The encfs command is used to manage an encrypted user-space filesystem which holds the contents of the secret/ directory. This is an optional feature, useful if you want to protect your secrets at rest.
The git tool is used to manage DebOps monorepo installation or updates by the debops-update command.
The gpg command is used by the debops-padlock script to encrypt and decrypt files with EncFS passphrase. It's usually already installed by the operating system.
This is a Python library that provides various functions related to DNS queries. Some of the DebOps roles rely on DNS records to get information about the environment, like addresses of centralized services provided via DNS SRV records. In Ansible, this library is required by the dig lookup plugin.
This is a Python library which can be used to interface with the LDAP servers, Ansible ldap_attr and ldap_entry modules use it. You will need to install it if you want to manage LDAP using DebOps roles. It's available as python-ldap APT package in Debian, it can also be installed via PyPI.
This module provides a compatibility layer between Python 2.7 and Python 3.x versions. It allows creation of code that can be run in both old and new Python environments without changes.
This is a Python library which can be used to manipulate IP addresses in different ways. It's used by the ipaddr() Ansible filter plugin used in some of the DebOps roles. On Debian, it's available in the python-netaddr APT packages, it can also be installed via PyPI.
This is a Python library which is used by Ansible password() lookup plugin to encrypt passwords on Ansible Controller. This is required in DebOps roles that use debops.secret role to generate random passwords and store them in the secret/ directory. The library is available on Debian as the python-passlib APT package, it can also be installed via PyPI.
This command is used to generate unique UUID strings for hosts which are then stored as Ansible facts. On Debian, it's available in the uuid-runtime package.

DebOps scripts

The DebOps scripts are available via PyPI, to install them on the Ansible Controller you can use the command:

sudo pip install debops

An upgrade is also possible with the command:

sudo pip install --upgrade debops

At the moment installation on an unprivileged user account doesn't work as expected, system-wide installation should work fine.

DebOps monorepo

If you installed DebOps using a Python package equal or newer than 0.7.0, the installation should include a set of DebOps playbooks and roles located in the debops Python package directory. The scripts should automatically find them and use them as necessary.

If you installed an older DebOps release, or you want to use the latest changes in DebOps development branch, you can use the debops-update command to download or update the DebOps monorepo. The git repository will be cloned to the directory:


You can also execute the command:

debops-update <path-to-directory>

This will clone the repository to the debops/ subdirectory inside of the specified directory. This allows you to create a "local" copy of the DebOps monorepo which will be used by the debops script instead of the user-wide repository.

Running the debops-update command will update the existing DebOps monorepo, either the user-wide clone, or the one found in a local directory.

Installation in a Python virtualenv

You can install Ansible and DebOps in a Python virtualenv environment. These instructions are for Debian Jessie or Debian Stretch, they should also work in Ubuntu.

First install python virtual-env packages and other system dependencies required for building:

sudo apt-get install python-virtualenv virtualenv build-essential \
                     python-dev libffi-dev libssl-dev libsasl2-dev \

Next we activate the DebOps virtual environment and prepare it for use:

virtualenv debops-venv
cd debops-venv
source bin/activate
pip install --upgrade setuptools
pip install ansible debops

After DebOps is installed, you might want to create symlinks to the debops scripts in /usr/local/bin/ directory to make the commands available outside of the the Python virtual environment:

ln -s debops-venv/bin/ansible          /usr/local/bin/ansible
ln -s debops-venv/bin/ansible-playbook /usr/local/bin/ansible-playbook
ln -s debops-venv/bin/debops           /usr/local/bin/debops
ln -s debops-venv/bin/debops-init      /usr/local/bin/debops-init
ln -s debops-venv/bin/debops-update    /usr/local/bin/debops-update
ln -s debops-venv/bin/debops-defaults  /usr/local/bin/debops-defaults

If your Ansible/DebOps-Controller machine has SElinux enabled, delegating tasks to localhost is problematic. A workaround for this issue is to add a definition for localhost to your inventory, outside of the [debops_all_hosts] inventory group:

localhost ansible_python_interpreter=/usr/bin/python

This makes Ansible use the SElinux libraries from the python-environment outside of the virtualenv.