DebOps installation

Installation types

DebOps can be installed in different ways depending on your needs:

  • As a Python package in a Python environment of a given UNIX account. Different UNIX accounts can use their own versions of DebOps.
  • As a Python package in a Python virtualenv environment. A given UNIX account can use different versions of DebOps by switching to each virtualenv environment.
  • As an Ansible Collection installed from the Ansible Galaxy using the ansible-galaxy command. This is a good solution if you are interested only in specific DebOps roles and you don't want to use the additional scripts to manage your environments.

In any case, the installation will be performed on a Linux, macOS or Windows (WSL) computer which will be called the "Ansible Controller". This machine will be used to execute Ansible commands against other, remote hosts which will be managed using DebOps roles and playbooks.

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 using 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.

Installation in the UNIX account Python environment

The debops Python package includes the DebOps roles and playbooks of a given release, as well as a custom Python module which provides additional functionality in DebOps roles, for example a way to override files and templates without the need to modify the roles, or a way to "inject" additional tasks into specific roles. You can also use a set of scripts which let you create new "project directories" for your environments and execute DebOps playbooks in a convenient way.

Ansible is an optional installation dependency of the debops Python package. This allows you to use your own Ansible installation (either in a different Python environment, or from OS packages) with DebOps.

Required Python packages

Some of the DebOps roles require optional Python modules not required by Ansible:

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 the Ansible password() lookup plugin to encrypt passwords on the 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 is a Python library which is used by the DebOps custom Jinja filters from_toml and to_toml which are used by some roles that configure software using TOML as configuration data format.

You can install them using your distribution packages on Debian or Ubuntu by running the command:

sudo apt install python3-future python3-ldap python3-netaddr \
                 python3-dnspython python3-passlib python3-toml

The missing Python dependencies will be automatically installed with the ansible and debops Python packages, however some of them, like the python3-ldap package, are distributed only as sources and require the build environment to be available. On Debian or Ubuntu you can install the required packages by running the command:

sudo apt install build-essential python3-dev libffi-dev libssl-dev \
                 libsasl2-dev libldap2-dev python3-pip

Installation of DebOps with Ansible included

To install DebOps and Ansible on your user account, execute the command:

pip3 install --user debops[ansible]

The above command will install the debops Python package, as well as ansible Python package with optional dependencies used by DebOps roles. They will be installed in the ~/.local/lib/python3.x/site-packages/ directory, the scripts and other binaries will be installed in ~/.local/bin directory which should be included in your $PATH.


The debops Python package contains its own set of DebOps roles and playbooks, which can be accessed by the debops script, you don't need to install the monorepo separately.

Installation of DebOps without Ansible

To install only the debops Python package, without additional dependencies, you can use the command:

pip3 install --user debops

In this case you will have to install Ansible and other optional dependencies required by DebOps separately.

Ansible notes

The latest 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 DebOps 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 the current Debian Stable release, you might need to install the ansible package from the Backports repository. DebOps development follows the stable Ansible releases, because of that the version of Ansible included in a Debian Stable release might not be sufficient anymore.

If you want to, you can build your own Ansible .deb package from the git source repository. The debops.ansible role contains a shell script, bootstrap-ansible, which can be used to automatically build a Debian package suitable for DebOps.

The debops.pki role requires Bash 4.x or higher 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, useful software

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.
The FUSE-based EncFS filesystem can be used to manage an encrypted volume which holds the contents of the secret/ directory. This is an optional feature, useful if you want to protect your passwords, X.509 certificates and other confidental data while not in use, for example in a git repository.
You can use git-crypt to transparently encrypt files in the secret/ directory when committing to a Git repository. Unlike EncFS, the files are not encrypted on your local hard disk, and the path names are not encrypted at all. The excellent 'Using git-crypt' section on the website or in the man page will get you started.
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.

Upgrading existing DebOps installation

The debops Python package can be upgraded to the latest release using the command:

pip3 install --user --upgrade debops

Installation in a virtualenv Python environment

The installation of DebOps in a Python virtual environment is similar to installation in the UNIX account Python environment. Importantly, some of the Python packages required by DebOps are not distributed in a binary format and require to be compiled. On Debian or Ubuntu, you have to install the required development packages:

sudo apt install build-essential python3-virtualenv virtualenv python3-dev \
                 libffi-dev libssl-dev libsasl2-dev libldap2-dev python3-pip

After that, you can create a new Python virtualenv environment in a selected directory and "enter" it by executing the commands:

virtualenv ~/src/venv/debops
cd ~/src/venv/debops
source bin/activate

The current shell prompt will change to indicate that you are in a Python virtual environment. Now, to install DebOps with Ansible included in the environment, you can run the command:

pip3 install debops[ansible]

Or, to install only DebOps without Ansible (for example, you want to use the Ansible from outside of the environment), you can execute the command:

pip3 install debops

To exit the current Python virtual environment, you can run the command:


This will change your current shell prompt again, which will indicate that you are now beyond the environment.

Upgrading existing virtualenv Python environment

In the virtualenv environment, you can upgrade to the latest release using the command:

pip3 install --upgrade debops

Installation from Ansible Galaxy


This functionality is fully supported since DebOps v2.0.0+.

DebOps is available on Ansible Galaxy, a central database of Ansible roles. The project is published there as a set of Ansible Collections, with Ansible roles and playbooks split into multiple "packages" due to the number of available roles. To install them on your Ansible Controller, you have to use the ansible-galaxy command provided with Ansible.

To install the DebOps Collections, run the command:

ansible-galaxy collection install debops.debops

The DebOps Collections will be available in the directory:


The debops.debops Collection includes the playbooks provided with DebOps which can be used to execute roles after setting up the required Ansible inventory. Various roles that use custom lookup or filter plugins are modified to use them from the Collections as well, but otherwise the roles should have the same functionality as those included in the DebOps Python package or in the monorepo.

Read the documentation about using Ansible Collections in Playbooks for more details and examples.

Upgrading installed Collections

To upgrade the already installed DebOps Collections to the latest release published on Ansible Galaxy, you can run the command:

ansible-galaxy collection install --force-with-deps debops.debops

Installation of the DebOps rolling release

The debops Python package includes a debops-update script which can be used to install the DebOps monorepo directly from GitHub, with the master branch checked out by default. If you run this script without any arguments, the repository will be installed in:


Running debops-update command again will refresh the repository.

If you specify a directory as an argument to the debops-update command, the monorepo will be cloned into the debops/ subdirectory of that directory. This can be used to install the development version in a specific DebOps project directory, for testing new releases:

debops-init ~/src/projects/test-env
debops-update ~/src/projects/test-env

The monorepo installed in the debops/ subdirectory of a given DebOps project directory will take precedence over the one installed globally in ~/.local/share/debops/debops/ or included in the Python package.