Configure Automation Controller

Task 2: Configure Automation Controller

Okay, Automation Controller is up and running but pretty empty. In this task you add some automation content to it. To make it not too easy and resemble more real life situations, you will use Ansible to configure Automation Controller objects.


  • Automation Controller is running & accessible
  • You can run ansible-navigator on a laptop/VM.


  • Create a Playbook using the ansible.controller collection to create these objects in your Automation Controller:
    • Inventory
    • Hosts in the inventory
    • Machine credentials to connect to your managed host
    • Project to pull Ansible content from
    • Template to install Apache on the managed hosts
  • If you haven’t done this before it might sound daunting, but fear not: You can find a complete template below in the Tips section.

BTW you don’t have to install the ansible.controller collection because it’s already baked into the EE we used before to deploy instances.


  • On your system create a new directory next to the one with the cloned git repo from deploying the AWS instances.
  • In the new directory create a Playbook resembling the one from our lab.
    • Note: We are using the supported collection ansible.controller here, upstream is called awx.awx.
    • Change the loop in the creating hosts section to only contain the public FQDN of your managed node instance.
      • Assuming you didn’t change it this should only be your instance number 5
    • Make sure ssh_key_data: points to the SSH key you use to connect to the instances

You have seen how ansible-navigator knew which Execution Environment image to use, right? But this only works if you have the needed configuration in ansible-navigator.ymlliving in the same directory you run ansible-navigator from. You can specify the EE and other parameters on the commandline but it’s easier to track what you’ve done in the config file. As a start copy the ansible-navigator.yml file over to your new directory and adapt it if needed.

  • Configure credentials for the ansible.controller collection modules to be able to talk to your Automation Controller:
    • Set the environment variables CONTROLLER_HOST, CONTROLLER_USERNAME, CONTROLLER_PASSWORD with the values of your Automation Controller and set CONTROLLER_VERIFY_SSL=false
    • Important: Add the env vars above to the ansible-navigator.yml file
      • This way they are available in the running container!
      • Add only the name of the variable under the env vars already in the file!
  • Run the Playbook using ansible-navigator
    • Hint: Use -m stdout to mimic the output of ansible-playbook


  • The Playbook configured the objects needed
  • The Template run installed and started Apache on your managed node, should be instance 5
  • Opening the default webpage on the managed node in a browser works.


  • Here is the template for the Playbook:
Click here for Template

- name: Configure automation controller
  hosts: localhost
  become: false
  gather_facts: false
  - name: Create an inventory
      name: Learnfest Inventory
      organization: Default
  - name: Add hosts to inventory
      name: "{{  item }}"
      inventory: Learnfest Inventory
      state: present
      - <instance-5>
  - name: Machine Credentials
      name: Learnfest Credentials
      credential_type: Machine
      organization: Default
        username: ec2-user
        ssh_key_data: "{{ lookup('file', '~/.ssh/<GUID>key.pem' ) }}"
  - name: Learnfest Project
      name: Learnfest Project
      organization: Default
      state: present
      scm_update_on_launch: True
      scm_delete_on_update: True
      scm_type: git
  - name: Learnfest Job Template
      name: Install Apache
      organization: Default
      state: present
      inventory: Learnfest Inventory
      become_enabled: True
      playbook: apache_install.yml
      project: Learnfest Project
      credential: Learnfest Credentials

  • The collection/module documentation is here in Automation Hub. Go to Collections and filter for controller.
  • If you would like to know what collections are in a certain Execution Environment, run ansible-navigator collections against the EE in question.
  • If you get confused by all the naming changes (ansible.controller in Automation Hub, awx.awx upstream, lot’s of references to Tower in the docs)… don’t be, all will finally be good! (TM)