Ansible Galaxy – Testing Roles with Test Kitchen

February 16, 2016 by mtchavez

Ansible is a provisioning tool to easily help you get your infrastructure under control. One of the key elements in Ansible is a role. There are public roles to get you started quickly with Ansible over at Ansible Galaxy. One thing Ansible is sort of lacking is a strong testing approach for open source roles.

Other technologies like Chef have this approach to test drive the code and tools that provision your infrastructure. Luckily there has been some work to extend some of those very tools to test your Ansible roles as well.

To get started we will need a handful of dependencies:

  1. A working Python install with Ansible installed
  2. A working Ruby install with bundler installed
  3. Docker installed and running. Please see install instructions.
  4. Some knowledge on Ansible itself and creating Galaxy roles.
  5. Also some knowledge of Rspec and a Ruby dev environment

Adding needed gems

First we can start by initializing bundler for the role with bundler init. Then we can add our dependencies to the Gemfile.

source ''

group :test do
  gem 'kitchen-ansible'
  gem 'kitchen-docker'
  gem 'test-kitchen'

The dependencies here are adding Test Kitchen with the ansible and docker hooks since by default this is used with Chef and Vagrant. Make sure to install the dependencies afterwards with bundle install

Kitchen setup

Once kitchen dependencies are installed we can initialize the role for the Test Kitchen with bundle exec kitchen init. This will create a .kitchen.yml file, which we want to update to be the following:


  name: docker

  - name: "ubuntu-14.04"

  name: busser
    - Ansiblespec

  - name: default
      name: ansible_playbook
      playbook: role.yml
        - "."

The gist of what this is doing is telling kitchen to use the docker driver, with a platform of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, a verifing step using the Ansiblespec plugin, and a default test suite that will run a playbook named role.yml. The most important thing at the moment is the additional_copy_path. At the moment testing an Ansible Galaxy role doesn’t just work out of the box with kitchen-ansible. By specifying the copy path to be the role directory you get it copied into the provisioner which can then be ran as a normal role within a playbook.

Kitchen Ansible setup

Kitchen Ansible is where most of the magic happens to allow Test Kitchen to be used in place of Chef. See the repo for more information on setup, updates, and configuration. Start by making the needed test directories and files to run our default test suite. Your test directory structure should look like so:

└── integration
    └── default
        └── ansiblespec
            ├── Gemfile
            └── config.yml

The config.yml file for the default suite should be filled out with this:


  playbook: role.yml
  inventory: hosts
  kitchen_path: "/tmp/kitchen"
  pattern: "spec"
  user: root

Where the role.yml is a playbook in your Galaxy role that includes itself with variables and tasks.


- name: Test my role
  hosts: all
  sudo: yes
    - ""
    - "defaults/main.yml"
    - "vars/main.yml"
    - include: "tasks/main.yml"
    - include: "handlers/main.yml"

At time of writing this will break without the roles section!

Writing your specs

Since Test Kitchen uses Rspec we will need to set this up with a spec_helper and our default_spec.rb for our default test suite in a spec directory:

├── default_spec.rb
└── spec_helper.rb

Where a spec_helper.rb would look something like this, minus any SSH setup which you can see more on at the kitchen-ansible repository.

require 'rubygems'
require 'bundler/setup'

require 'serverspec'
require 'pathname'
require 'net/ssh'

RSpec.configure do
  set :host, ENV['TARGET_HOST']
  set :request_pty, true

A contrived default_spec.rb might look something like so:

require_relative './spec_helper.rb'

describe 'my galaxy role' do
  describe group('baz') do
    it { should exist }

  describe user('foobar') do
    it { should exist }

  describe package('role-package') do
    it { should be_installed }

  describe file('/etc/myapp/app.conf') do
    it { should be_file }

  describe port(8000) do
    it { should be_listening }

  describe process('myprocess') do
    it { should be_running }

Running your role tests

With everything in place we have Test Kitchen set up to use our ansible role to provision an Ubuntu machine within Docker and verify with our serverspec test. Now we can run the tests with bundle exec kitchen test. This will spin up a docker image with Ubuntu installed. Chef will be installed to use this version of Ruby for any dependencies. Ansible will be installed and used to provision the container with your role.yml playbook. Then rspec will be ran to run the default test suite and your default_spec.rb file.

Some shortcomings

Currently you need to define an empty roles key in your playbook being ran. Kitchen ansible was mainly built to run against an ansible project with multiple roles rather than a Galaxy role. This may change in the future, making this process easier.

The spec pattern is being used here to workaround a path issue with where the verifier is looking for spec files. This means the spec files matching spec/*_spec.rb will be executed for every test suite at the moment. It would be nice to have a suite directory with spec files per suite, similar to a per role suite in the normal testing pattern.

Using the additional_copy_path had to be used to get the galaxy role into the container where provisioning needed to happen. Ideally there would be a nicer way to say your role that is being tested is the current directory or is a galaxy role to avoid this.

Kitchen Ansible love

Overall this is a great start to getting some test coverage for an ansible galaxy role. It helps shorten the gap to something like Chef that has a community that is focused on testing their open source contributions. This also helped me with a role where someone contributed changes to support a non-ubuntu platform. Now tests can be added for the new platform to ensure things don’t break for either when added in and going forward.


mtchavez All rights reserved.