Unlocking the Secrets of Ansible: Solving `Permission Denied` Errors with Public Keys and Passwords (Includes Code Examples)

Table of content

  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding Ansible
  3. What are 'Permission Denied' errors?
  4. Solving 'Permission Denied' errors with public keys
  5. Solving 'Permission Denied' errors with passwords
  6. Code examples for solving 'Permission Denied' errors
  7. Conclusion


Ansible is a powerful automation tool that enables system administrators to manage multiple servers simultaneously. However, when working with Ansible, it's not uncommon to encounter "permission denied" errors when attempting to access servers using credentials. In this article, we will explore how to solve these issues using public keys and passwords.

Ansible uses SSH to connect to remote servers and execute commands. SSH requires authentication, which can be done using a password or a public-private key pair. Using public keys instead of passwords can make authentication more secure and convenient, as it eliminates the need to enter passwords manually each time you connect to a server.

In this article, we will cover how to generate a public key pair, copy the public key to remote servers, and configure Ansible to use the key for authentication. We will also cover how to configure Ansible to use passwords for authentication when needed. By the end of this article, you should have a good understanding of how to configure Ansible to avoid "permission denied" errors when executing tasks on remote servers.

Understanding Ansible

Ansible is a powerful automation tool that allows users to remotely configure servers, deploy applications, and manage infrastructure. At its core, Ansible uses a simple, human-readable configuration language called YAML to describe the desired state of a system. This makes it easy for developers and system administrators to collaborate on complex infrastructure projects and to quickly deploy changes across multiple servers.

One of the key advantages of Ansible is its ability to scale to thousands of servers with minimal setup and configuration. Ansible can be run from a single control node and can communicate with managed nodes over SSH. This allows users to quickly and easily configure large and complex environments without the need for additional overhead or specialized tools.

Another strength of Ansible is its ability to handle a wide range of tasks and configurations. Ansible includes a large set of pre-built modules that can be used to manage common tasks such as installing packages, configuring services, and managing files. Additionally, Ansible supports the use of custom scripts and modules, allowing users to easily extend its functionality and tailor it to their specific needs.

Overall, and its capabilities is essential for anyone looking to improve their automation workflows and manage complex infrastructure environments. With its scalable architecture, flexible configuration language, and wide range of pre-built modules, Ansible is a powerful tool for anyone looking to streamline their server management processes.

What are ‘Permission Denied’ errors?

'Permission Denied' errors are a common issue encountered by Ansible users when attempting to execute tasks or playbooks. These errors occur when the user executing the task or playbook does not have the necessary permissions to perform the requested action. This can happen when the user does not have the appropriate public key or password needed for authentication. When Ansible is unable to authenticate the user, it will return a 'Permission Denied' error.

The most common cause of 'Permission Denied' errors is that the user does not have the necessary credentials to access the target system. This can be due to incorrect public keys or passwords, or because the user does not have the necessary permissions to execute the task. In order to resolve these errors, the user will need to ensure that they have the correct credentials and permissions needed to perform the requested action.

To solve 'Permission Denied' errors, Ansible users can configure their tasks and playbooks to use the correct public key or password for authentication. This can be done by updating the configuration file to include the correct credentials, or by passing the credentials as parameters when executing the task or playbook. Additionally, users should ensure that they have the necessary permissions on the target system and that the public key or password they are using is correct.

In conclusion, 'Permission Denied' errors can be a frustrating issue for Ansible users. However, by understanding the common causes of these errors and actively working to resolve them, users can ensure that they are able to perform the necessary tasks and execute playbooks without issue.

Solving ‘Permission Denied’ errors with public keys

When using Ansible to automate deployments, one common issue that can be encountered is "Permission Denied" errors. These errors can be caused by several factors, including incorrect file permissions or insufficient access rights. One way to solve these errors is by using public keys for authentication.

Public keys can be used to authenticate a user or server without the need to enter a password. When using Ansible, public key authentication can be set up between the control node and the target node to allow secure communication between the two. This can help to avoid "Permission Denied" errors that are caused by incorrect passwords or authentication tokens.

To use public key authentication in Ansible, the public key needs to be added to the target node's authorized_keys file. This can be done using the authorized_key module in Ansible. Once the public key is added to the target node, Ansible can authenticate with the target node without the need for a password.

Overall, using public keys for authentication in Ansible can help to solve "Permission Denied" errors and improve the security of deployments. By removing the need for passwords, public key authentication can also simplify the deployment process and reduce the risk of password-related issues.

Solving ‘Permission Denied’ errors with passwords

When working with Ansible, one common error that users may encounter is receiving a "Permission Denied" message when attempting to run a playbook or access certain files. This error can be particularly frustrating when the user believes they have set up the necessary permissions and access controls.

One solution to this problem is to ensure that the correct password is being used to access the necessary files and directories. When using passwords to authenticate access, it is important to ensure that the password is entered correctly and that any required configuration files or environment variables are properly set up.

Another approach is to use a private SSH key to authenticate access. By generating a public key on the client machine and placing it on the target machine, the user can grant access to specific files and directories without requiring a password. This approach can be particularly useful in automated or scripted environments where manual password entry is not practical.

Overall, the key to solving "Permission Denied" errors in Ansible is to carefully review and configure the necessary access controls and credentials. Whether using passwords or private keys, ensuring that the correct authentication method is in place can help to streamline workflows and make Ansible automation more efficient and effective.

Code examples for solving ‘Permission Denied’ errors

When using Ansible, encountering "Permission Denied" errors can be frustrating and time-consuming to troubleshoot. Fortunately, there are ways to solve these errors using public keys and passwords. Let's take a look at some code examples for solving common "Permission Denied" errors.

One common error is when Ansible cannot access a remote system due to incorrect SSH credentials. To solve this, you can specify the location of the SSH private key and username in your Ansible configuration file. Here's an example:

- name: Deploy web application
  hosts: web
  become: true
  become_method: sudo
  remote_user: myuser
    ansible_ssh_private_key_file: /home/myuser/.ssh/id_rsa
  - name: Clone git repository
      repo: git@github.com:myuser/myapp.git
      dest: /var/www/myapp

In this example, we've specified the SSH private key location with ansible_ssh_private_key_file and the remote user with remote_user. This will allow Ansible to access the remote system with the correct credentials and clone the git repository.

Another common error is when Ansible cannot access a file or directory due to incorrect permissions. To solve this, you can use the file module to change the permissions of the file or directory. Here's an example:

- name: Set permissions on app directory
  hosts: web
  become: true
  become_method: sudo
  - name: Set permissions on directory
      path: /var/www/myapp
      mode: 0755
      state: directory

In this example, we're setting the permissions of the /var/www/myapp directory to 0755 using the file module. This will allow Ansible to access the directory and perform any necessary tasks.

By using public keys and passwords, and applying the proper permissions on files and directories, you can solve many common "Permission Denied" errors in Ansible. These code examples serve as a starting point for troubleshooting these errors and implementing solutions.


In , using public keys and passwords with Ansible can help solve common "Permission Denied" errors that arise when trying to run tasks on remote servers. By adding the appropriate public key to the remote server and configuring the SSH connection with the correct password, Ansible can successfully execute tasks without encountering permission issues. It is also important to ensure that the correct user is defined in the inventory file and that the appropriate privilege escalation method is selected.

One of the key benefits of using Ansible is its ability to automate tasks and configuration management, improving efficiency and reducing errors. By leveraging the power of public keys and passwords, Ansible can further enhance its capabilities and streamline the process of managing remote servers. As organizations continue to adopt DevOps and automation practices, tools like Ansible will become increasingly important for maintaining infrastructure and ensuring smooth operations.

Overall, understanding the role of public keys and passwords in Ansible is crucial for successfully managing remote servers and avoiding common errors. By implementing these best practices and keeping up-to-date with the latest developments in Ansible, organizations can increase productivity and reduce operational overhead.

I am a driven and diligent DevOps Engineer with demonstrated proficiency in automation and deployment tools, including Jenkins, Docker, Kubernetes, and Ansible. With over 2 years of experience in DevOps and Platform engineering, I specialize in Cloud computing and building infrastructures for Big-Data/Data-Analytics solutions and Cloud Migrations. I am eager to utilize my technical expertise and interpersonal skills in a demanding role and work environment. Additionally, I firmly believe that knowledge is an endless pursuit.

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