ansible permission denied publickey password with code examples

Ansible is an open-source tool that is used for automation and orchestration of IT infrastructure. It is widely used for configuration management, deployment, and task-based automation of systems. Ansible uses Secure Shell (SSH) to communicate with remote servers and execute tasks. It leverages Python and YAML for scripting and configuration files. Ansible provides a password-less SSH experience for executing tasks, which is achieved by generating an SSH key pair and adding the public key to the remote server's authorized_keys file. However, sometimes users may encounter an error message while running an Ansible playbook that says "permission denied publickey password." In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this error message and how to troubleshoot it with code examples.

What is "permission denied publickey password" error?

The "permission denied publickey password" error message is a common issue that users may encounter while running an Ansible playbook. This error message occurs when the SSH connection between the local machine and remote server fails due to incorrect credentials or key-based authentication. Essentially, Ansible is unable to authenticate the user with the remote server due to an incorrect password or an incorrect SSH key. The error message usually looks like this:

fatal: [remote-server]: UNREACHABLE! => {"changed": false, "msg": "Failed to connect to the host via ssh: Permission denied (publickey,password).", "unreachable": true}

The error message indicates that Ansible was unable to establish an SSH connection with the remote server using the provided public key or password.

Reasons behind this error

There can be several reasons why users may encounter the "permission denied publickey password" error message. Here are some common causes:

  1. Incorrect SSH credentials: Ansible relies on SSH for remote communication and execution of tasks. If you are using SSH key-based authentication, it is essential to provide the correct private key that matches the public key added to the remote server's authorized_keys file. If the private key is incorrect, Ansible will fail to authenticate with the remote server and throw the error message.

  2. Missing SSH credentials: If your Ansible playbook is using SSH key-based authentication, make sure that the private key is present in the correct location on your local machine. If the private key is missing, Ansible will not be able to authenticate with the remote server.

  3. Incorrect password: If your Ansible playbook is using password-based authentication, make sure that you are providing the correct password for the remote server. Ansible will fail to authenticate with the remote server if the password is incorrect.

  4. Wrong username: Sometimes, the error message can also occur due to a wrong username. Make sure that the username you are using in your playbook is correct and matches the remote server's username.

How to troubleshoot "permission denied publickey password" error?

Now that we have covered the reasons behind the "permission denied publickey password" error message, let's look at some ways to troubleshoot the issue.

  1. Verify SSH key-based authentication

If you are using SSH key-based authentication, verify that the public key is added to the remote server's authorized_keys file and the private key is present on your local machine in the correct location. Here is an example of how to verify SSH key-based authentication:

$ ssh -i /path/to/private/key username@remote-server

This command will attempt to SSH into the remote server using the specified private key and username. If the SSH connection is successful, it means that the private key and public key authentication is working correctly. If it fails, it may indicate that the private key is incorrect or the public key is not added to the remote server's authorized_keys file.

  1. Check SSH connection settings

If the SSH key-based authentication is working correctly, check the SSH connection settings in your Ansible playbook. Make sure that the SSH settings in your playbook match the settings you used to verify SSH key-based authentication. Here is an example of how to specify SSH settings in your Ansible playbook:

- name: Example playbook
  hosts: remote-server
  become: yes
  vars:
    ansible_ssh_private_key_file: /path/to/private/key
    ansible_user: username

In this example, we are specifying the private key file path and username to use for the SSH connection.

  1. Verify password-based authentication

If you are using password-based authentication, verify that your playbook is providing the correct password for the remote server. Here is an example of how to specify password-based authentication in your Ansible playbook:

- name: Example playbook
  hosts: remote-server
  become: yes
  vars:
    ansible_password: yourpassword
    ansible_user: username

In this example, we are providing the password and username for the remote server.

  1. Check user permissions

If the SSH connection settings and credentials are correct, check that the user you are using in your Ansible playbook has the appropriate permissions to execute tasks on the remote server. Here is an example of how to verify user permissions:

- name: Example playbook
  hosts: remote-server
  become: yes
  vars:
    ansible_ssh_private_key_file: /path/to/private/key
    ansible_user: username
  tasks:
  - name: Check if user is sudoers
    command: sudo -l
    register: sudo_info
  - debug: var=sudo_info.stdout_lines

In this example, we are checking if the user we are using in our playbook has sudo privileges on the remote server.

Conclusion

The "permission denied publickey password" error message is a common issue that users may encounter while running an Ansible playbook. The error message indicates that Ansible was unable to authenticate with the remote server due to incorrect credentials or key-based authentication. In this article, we explored the reasons behind this error message and how to troubleshoot it with code examples. By following the troubleshooting steps outlined in this article, you should be able to resolve the "permission denied publickey password" error and successfully execute your Ansible playbook.

Sure! Here's some more information about the topics in the article:

Ansible

Ansible is a configuration management system that allows users to automate the deployment and management of software and infrastructure. It is a powerful tool that is used for orchestration, application deployment, and server automation. Ansible uses declarative language, which makes it easy to learn and use. It also provides users with a centralized control system, which can be used to manage systems at scale.

SSH

Secure Shell (SSH) is a secure protocol used for remote access to a computer system. It provides a secure channel for remote login, file transfer, and other network services. SSH is widely used for system administration, particularly in Unix and Linux environments. It uses a public-key cryptography system to authenticate remote users and encrypt data transmission. SSH is also used by Ansible to communicate with remote servers.

Python and YAML

Python is a high-level programming language with a simple syntax that is easy to learn and use. It is used extensively for scripting and automation. Ansible is written in Python and allows users to write playbooks in Python as well. YAML (or "YAML Ain't Markup Language") is a human-readable data serialization format. It is used by Ansible for configuration files and playbooks. YAML provides a simple syntax that is easy to learn.

Configuration management

Configuration management is a process that involves identifying, controlling, and tracking changes to an organization's hardware and software. The goal is to maintain a consistent and reliable computing infrastructure by ensuring that systems are configured correctly, patched regularly, and managed effectively. Configuration management systems such as Ansible make it easier to automate these tasks and ensure consistency across a large number of systems.

Deployment automation

Deployment automation is the process of automating the deployment of software applications to production environments. It involves a series of steps such as building, testing, and deploying an application. With automation, these steps can be executed quickly and reliably, reducing the likelihood of errors and minimizing downtime. Ansible provides deployment automation capabilities that can be used to deploy applications across multiple systems simultaneously.

Task automation

Task automation is the process of automating routine tasks to save time and reduce errors. Ansible provides users with task automation capabilities that can be used to automate a wide range of tasks such as system updates, database backups, and user management. By automating tasks, users can save time and increase productivity while reducing the likelihood of errors.

Popular questions

  1. What is Ansible used for?

Ansible is used for automation and orchestration of IT infrastructure. It is widely used for configuration management, deployment, and task-based automation of systems.

  1. What is the "permission denied publickey password" error message in Ansible?

The "permission denied publickey password" error message is a common issue that users may encounter while running an Ansible playbook. This error message occurs when the SSH connection between the local machine and remote server fails due to incorrect credentials or key-based authentication.

  1. How can you troubleshoot the "permission denied publickey password" error message?

There are several ways to troubleshoot the "permission denied publickey password" error message in Ansible. Some methods include verifying SSH key-based authentication, checking SSH connection settings, verifying password-based authentication, and checking user permissions.

  1. What is SSH used for in Ansible?

Secure Shell (SSH) is used by Ansible to communicate with remote servers and execute tasks. SSH is a secure protocol used for remote access to a computer system. It provides a secure channel for remote login, file transfer, and other network services.

  1. What are Python and YAML used for in Ansible?

Python and YAML are used extensively in Ansible for scripting, configuration files, and playbooks. Ansible is written in Python, and it allows users to write playbooks in Python as well. YAML is used for configuration files and playbooks and provides a simple syntax that is easy to learn and use.

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As a senior DevOps Engineer, I possess extensive experience in cloud-native technologies. With my knowledge of the latest DevOps tools and technologies, I can assist your organization in growing and thriving. I am passionate about learning about modern technologies on a daily basis. My area of expertise includes, but is not limited to, Linux, Solaris, and Windows Servers, as well as Docker, K8s (AKS), Jenkins, Azure DevOps, AWS, Azure, Git, GitHub, Terraform, Ansible, Prometheus, Grafana, and Bash.

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