Skip to main content

Run PowerShell code with Ansible on a Windows Host

Ansible is one of the Configuration Manager kings in the game. With it's easy-to-understand syntax and even easier to use modules, Ansible is certainly a go-to when you're picking what Configuration Management you want to use for your organization. Your question may be "but Ansible is typically on Linux and what happens when I'm in a Windows environment?". Luckily I'm here to tell you that Ansible will still work! I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to use Ansible on Windows with a little WinRM magic. Let's get started.

Pre-requisites for this post:
1) WinRM set up to connect to your Windows host from Ansible
2) Ansible set up for Windows Remote Management
3) SSH access to the Ansible host
4) Proper firewall rules to allow WinRM (port 5985) access from your Ansible host to your Windows host
5) Hosts file set up in Ansible that has your IP or hostname of your Windows Server.
6) At least one Linux host running Ansible and one Windows Server host (I'm using Windows Server 2019 for this demonstration)

Let's first head over to /etc/ansible/hosts and confirm we have our setup in place. You may see some other commented out configs in there which are the typical defaults if you're using a new Ansible server.

[windows]                                                                                  winsrv29 ansible_host=YourWindowsServerIP


With our Ansible host up and our Windows Server allowing requests, let's do a quick confirmation that WinRM is doing it's job with a quick ping.

ansible windows -m win_ping

If you do not receive a successful ping, please confirm your firewall accepts ICMP requests (if you're in an organization there may be a reason why your org turned it off) and your Windows Server is accepting requests over port 5985.

Now that we have a successful connection, let's go ahead and run our first PowerShell cmdlet.

ansible windows -m win_shell -a "Get-Service -Name BITS"

Let's analyze the above. we're calling ansible then using windows to call the windows group in our hosts file. Then we use -m that calls a module name which in our case we're using the win_shell module. After that we use the -a to pass args which in our case is the Get-Service cmdlet.

After we run it we should get a response back if the service is running or not.

Running a PowerShell cmdlet is great but what if you have to run a script? Lucky for us we can do that too!

I've created a PowerShell script in /etc/ansible/scripts that simply gets the BITS service and turns it on.

Now let's go ahead and copy our script over to our server by using the win_copy module and running ansible windows -m win_copy -a "src=/etc/ansible/scripts/turnonbits.ps1 dest=C:\\" to copy our script to the C: drive.

Our script is copied over to our location and we're ready to run it!

ansible windows -m win_command -a "powershell.exe -File C:\turnonbits.ps1"

If we run our ansible windows -m win_shell -a "Get-Service -Name BITS" command again, we'll see that BITS is now started!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Running PowerShell commands in a Dockerfile

As Docker continues to grow we are starting to see the containerization engine more and more on Windows. With the need for containers on Windows, we also need the same automation we get in Linux with Dockerfiles. Today we're going to create a Dockerfile that runs PowerShell cmdlets.
Prerequisites; 1. Docker for Windows
2. A code editor (VSCode preferred)

Let's go ahead and get our Dockerfile set up. Below is the Dockerfile I used for this post.

from MAINTAINER Michael Levan RUN powershell -Command Install-WindowsFeature -Name Web-Server RUN powershell -Command New-Item -Type File -Path C:\ -Name config
As you can see from the above, this is a tiny Dockerfile. What this will do is install the IIS Windows 

Feature and create a new file in C:\ called "config".
You should see something very similar to the below screenshot;

Next let's create a running container out of our image. First we'll need to run docker container ls to

 get o…

DevOps tooling in the Microsoft realm

When I really started to dive into automation and practicing DevOps with specific tooling, there were a few key players. At the time Microsoft was not one of them. They were just starting to embrace the open source world, including the art and practice of DevOps. Since then Microsoft has went all in and the tech giant has made some incredible tooling. Recently I switched to a Microsoft-heavy environment and I love it. I went from AWS/Python/Ansible/Jenkins to Azure/PowerShell/ARM/Azure DevOps. My first programming language was PowerShell so being back in the saddle allowed me to do a full circle between all of the different types of tooling in both worlds. Today I want to share some of that tooling with you.

The first thing I want to talk about is ARM. What is ARM? ARM is a configuration management tool that allows you to perform software-defined-infrastructure. Much like Ansible and Terraform, ARM allows you to define what you want your environment to look like at scale. With ARM, yo…