Controlling the inventory order when running an Ansible playbook

This week I was updating some Ansible application and OS update playbooks. By default, when you run ansible-playbook it will apply your desired configuration to hosts in the order they are listed in the inventory file (or in the order they are returned by a dynamic inventory script). But what if you want to process hosts in a random order? Or by their sorted or reverse sorted names? I recently came across the order option, and was surprised that I didn’t notice this before.

The order option allows you to control the order ansible operates on the hosts in your inventory. It currently has five options:

inventory          The default. The order is ‘as provided’ by the inventory
reverse_inventory  As the name implies, this reverses the order ‘as provided’ by the inventory
sorted             Hosts are alphabetically sorted by name
reverse_sorted     Hosts are sorted by name in reverse alphabetical order
shuffle            Hosts are randomly ordered each run

So if you want to process your hosts in a random order, you can pass “shuffle” to option:

- hosts: "{{ server_list }}"
  become: true
  serial: 1
  order: shuffle
    - name: Upgrade Operating System packages
        name: '*'
        state: latest
      register: yum_updates_applied

This is super useful for large clusters, epsecially those that have hosts grouped by functional purpose. Nifty option!

This article was posted by on 2020-07-29 00:00:00 -0500 -0500