Understanding and Using the ANSIBLE_DEBUG Variable

ANSIBLE_DEBUG is an environment variable in Ansible that allows you to control the level of debug output generated during playbook execution. In this tutorial, we will explore the purpose of the ANSIBLE_DEBUG variable, how to set it up, and where to use it effectively.

Part 1: Understanding ANSIBLE_DEBUG


The ANSIBLE_DEBUG variable is used to increase the verbosity of Ansible output for debugging purposes. When set, it provides detailed information about what Ansible is doing, making it invaluable for troubleshooting issues during playbook execution.


  • Debugging Playbook Issues: When your playbook encounters issues, setting ANSIBLE_DEBUG helps you get detailed information on tasks, variables, and module execution. This aids in pinpointing the source of problems.
  • Understanding Execution Flow: ANSIBLE_DEBUG provides insight into the sequence of tasks and modules being executed, helping you understand the flow of your playbook.

Part 2: Setting Up ANSIBLE_DEBUG

Setting ANSIBLE_DEBUG Locally

  1. Export Environment Variable:
  • On Unix-based systems (Linux/Mac), open a terminal and export the ANSIBLE_DEBUG variable: export ANSIBLE_DEBUG=True
  • On Windows, use the following command in PowerShell: $env:ANSIBLE_DEBUG = "True"
  1. Run Ansible Command:
  • Execute your Ansible playbook or command as you normally would. The debug information will now be more detailed.

Setting ANSIBLE_DEBUG in Playbooks

You can also set ANSIBLE_DEBUG directly in your playbooks.

  1. Edit Playbook:
  • Open your playbook YAML file.
  1. Add ANSIBLE_DEBUG Variable:
  • Add the ANSIBLE_DEBUG variable in the vars section: vars: ANSIBLE_DEBUG: True
  1. Run Playbook:
  • Execute your playbook, and Ansible will produce detailed debug output.

Part 3: Where to Use ANSIBLE_DEBUG

Option 1: When running the Ansible command directly from the command line

Option 2: Define the environment variable with the command

Option 3: Set in an Inventory File

If you prefer to set this option in your inventory file, you can do so by including a line like this at the beginning of your file:

Then, run your playbook as usual:

Option 4: Set in the ansible.cfg File

You can configure ANSIBLE_DEBUG in the global Ansible configuration file (ansible.cfg). Add or modify the [defaults] section and add the line:

Additional Notes:

  • If you set ANSIBLE_DEBUG to True, Ansible will provide more detailed and helpful output for debugging issues and understanding what is happening under the hood.
  • Ensure you have sufficient permissions to export or modify environment variables, depending on your execution environment.

Debug mode in Ansible is useful for diagnosis and troubleshooting

Troubleshooting Playbook Execution

When encountering issues during playbook execution, temporarily enabling ANSIBLE_DEBUG helps diagnose problems with tasks, modules, or variable values.

Development and Testing

During the development phase, especially when writing new playbooks or roles, using ANSIBLE_DEBUG assists in understanding the behavior of your tasks.


In this tutorial, we explored the ANSIBLE_DEBUG variable in Ansible. Understanding its purpose and how to set it up locally or within playbooks can significantly enhance your ability to troubleshoot and debug Ansible playbooks. Whether you are running commands from the terminal or developing complex playbooks, ANSIBLE_DEBUG is a valuable tool for gaining insights into the inner workings of Ansible. Use it judiciously to streamline your troubleshooting process and improve the efficiency of your Ansible workflows.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *