Creating Ansible AWX/Ansible Automation Platform Execution environment

    As of version 2.0, Ansible AWX/Ansible Automation Platform has replaced Python virtual environments with Execution Environments(EEs). In a nutshell, it’s running all of your automations inside of containers. Execution Environments are container images that serve as Ansible control nodes. Starting in version 2.0, ansible-runner can make use of these images. An Ansible AWX/Ansible Automation Platform Execution environment(EE) is a container image used to execute Ansible playbooks and roles. It provides a defined, consistent, portable environment for executing automation.

    Automation execution environments provide a standard way to build and distribute the environment that automation runs in, which reduces complexity and makes it faster and simpler to develop and deploy automation.

    Tools installation

    My assumption at this stage is that you already have Ansible AWX/Ansible Automation Platform 2 already installed and youre now ready to create a custome Execution environment.

    An Execution Environment contains the folllowing components

    1. Ansible
    2. Ansible Runner
    3. Ansible Galaxy Collections
    4. Python and/or system dependencies of: modules/plugins in collections, content in ansible-base & custom user needs

    For us to be able to build the images, we need to install docker or podman as well as ansible-builder Python package.

    Install from PyPi

    $ pip install ansible-builder
    Requirement already satisfied: ansible-builder in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (3.0.0)
    Requirement already satisfied: PyYAML in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from ansible-builder) (6.0.1)
    Requirement already satisfied: requirements-parser in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from ansible-builder) (0.5.0)
    Requirement already satisfied: bindep in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from ansible-builder) (2.11.0)
    Requirement already satisfied: jsonschema in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from ansible-builder) (4.18.4)
    Requirement already satisfied: Parsley in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from bindep->ansible-builder) (1.3)
    Requirement already satisfied: pbr>=2.0.0 in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from bindep->ansible-builder) (5.11.1)
    Requirement already satisfied: distro>=1.7.0 in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from bindep->ansible-builder) (1.8.0)
    Requirement already satisfied: packaging in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from bindep->ansible-builder) (23.1)
    Requirement already satisfied: attrs>=22.2.0 in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from jsonschema->ansible-builder) (23.1.0)
    Requirement already satisfied: jsonschema-specifications>=2023.03.6 in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from jsonschema->ansible-builder) (2023.6.1)
    Requirement already satisfied: referencing>=0.28.4 in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from jsonschema->ansible-builder) (0.29.3)
    Requirement already satisfied: rpds-py>=0.7.1 in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from jsonschema->ansible-builder) (0.8.11)
    Requirement already satisfied: types-setuptools>=57.0.0 in ./.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages (from requirements-parser->ansible-builder) (

    Install from the source code

    This is the mainline development branch from GitHub.


    $ pip install
    Defaulting to user installation because normal site-packages is not writeable
         | 145.2 kB 701.2 kB/s 0:00:00
      Installing build dependencies ... done
      Getting requirements to build wheel ... done
      Installing backend dependencies ... done
      Preparing metadata (pyproject.toml) ... done
    Successfully built ansible-builder
    Installing collected packages: ansible-builder
      Attempting uninstall: ansible-builder
        Found existing installation: ansible-builder 3.0.0
        Uninstalling ansible-builder-3.0.0:
          Successfully uninstalled ansible-builder-3.0.0
    Successfully installed ansible-builder-3.0.1.dev26+gce52b2a9


    Build Custom Execution Environment

    In your home directory, create a directory and name it my-builder-env. This directory is to contain all the required files to build our image.

    The ansible-builder shall help us build container images with the definition file  execution-environment.yml . A typical execution-environment.yml contains the base container image (EE_BASE_IMAGE), ansible.cfg, and other dependency file details.

    With your favorite text editor, create execution-environment.yml file with the following contents:


    version: 3
        package_pip: ansible-core==2.15
        package_pip: ansible-runner
      galaxy: requirements.yml
      python: requirements.txt
      system: bindep.txt
        - src: ansible.cfg
          dest: configs
        - ADD _build/configs/ansible.cfg ~/.ansible.cfg
      prepend_final: |
        RUN whoami
        RUN cat /etc/os-release
        - RUN echo This is a post-install command!
        - RUN ls -la /etc

    In the same directory, create ansible.cfg with the following contant:

    server_list = galaxy


      - community.general
      - community.crypto
      - ansible.posix
      - awx.awx
      - ansible.posix
      - ansible.utils

    bindep.txt requirements.txt can remain empty unless we have extra dependencies to add.

    The file system tree:

    # tree
    ├── ansible.cfg
    ├── bindep.txt
    ├── execution-environment.yml
    ├── requirements.txt
    └── requirements.yml

    Build the Image

    The  ansible-builder buildcommand takes an execution environment definition as an input. It outputs the build context necessary for building an execution environment image, and it builds that image. The image can be re-built with the build context elsewhere, and give the same result. By default, it looks for a file named execution-environment.yml in the current directory.

    Using the configuration files, we can now build the EE image using the command below.


    $ ansible-builder build --tag technnix-awx-ee:v1.0 --verbosity 2
    Running command:
      podman build -f context/Containerfile -t technnix-awx-ee:v1.0 context
    Complete! The build context can be found at: /home/technnix/my-builder-env/context

    THe current file system structure:


    ├── ansible.cfg
    ├── ansible-navigator.log
    ├── bindep.txt
    ├── context
    │   ├── _build
    │   │   ├── bindep.txt
    │   │   ├── configs
    │   │   │   └── ansible.cfg
    │   │   ├── requirements.txt
    │   │   ├── requirements.yml
    │   │   └── scripts
    │   │       ├── assemble
    │   │       ├── check_ansible
    │   │       ├── check_galaxy
    │   │       ├── entrypoint
    │   │       ├── install-from-bindep
    │   │       └──
    │   └── Containerfile
    ├── execution-environment.yml
    ├── requirements.txt
    └── requirements.yml
    4 directories, 17 files

    List the images using podman command:

    $ podman image list
    REPOSITORY                                                          TAG         IMAGE ID      CREATED         SIZE
    localhost/technnix-awx-ee                                           v1.0        eebe0b77209d  5 minutes ago   1.65 GB                                              latest      fbdf4a114ccb  8 hours ago     1.51 GB

    We have now successfully built the EE image( localhost/technnix-awx-ee ). To use it, we need to push it to an image registry so that our Ansible AWX/Ansible Automation Platform can pull it from there and use it to run jobs.












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