Speeding up Ansible Playbook runs

Ansible is a great tool for configuration management but because of the way it’s designed a common complaint is that it’s not as fast as other tools like Salt, Chef or Puppet. This is because Ansible doesn’t have an agent that listens (although it can) on a host and uses a different type of deployment methodology that is based on SSH. This post isn’t about the pros and cons of each tool, but rather about ways to improve upon Ansible’s default configuration values. By default Ansible ships with very conservative default values. This is smart in my opinion because it offers greater compatibility out-of-the-box. Here I highlight some safe adjustments that can be made to the default configuration for improved performance (speed!)

Real World Playbook Test

For this test I’m using a real-world playbook that I use in my homelab when provisioning a new CentOS VM. It configures some basic things (hostname, ssh keys, etc), installs common packages/utilities and tunes some OS configurations.

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Dynamic DNS via Digital Ocean API

This is a quick tutorial about setting up a simple shell script that runs periodically to update a DNS record on the internet with the IP address of your network. If you’ve ever wanted to have myhome.mydomain.com always updated with your home IP address, this is one way you can do it. There are paid and free services that offer this functionality, but I choose to use this method because it gives me ultimate flexibility over my domain.
This tutorial assumes you have your own Top Level Domain (TLD) and that you’ve configured it to use Digital Ocean as the authoritative DNS for it. Here, I’ll use “example.com” as the top level domain.

Generate a Personal Access Token

Log in to Digital Ocean and click on API from the top Menu. Click the Generate New Token button and give it a name. The name is not parsed, it’s just for your own reference. I like to give it something descriptive to my application. For this example, I’ll use MyDNS. Be sure to check the box next to Write so we can update the records using this API Key.

Once you have the API Key, save it somewhere for reference. It’s one of the 3 variables we’ll need to update in the update_do_dns.sh script.

The API Key will look something like this:
fe3aeda96b7wer8wer1e6bb5erae528sdf3a6120dfrf7e492bwer6343fsdf

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System info bash script

I put together a quick bash shell script to view system info at a glance. I know there are existing tools for this like inxi, but I wanted to put something together I can copypasta. This is specific to RHEL, Centos and Sci Linux but it can be easily adapted for other distros.

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Inxi - a utility for viewing system information

Inxi

inxi is a super handy system info utility. These days I typically work with ephemeral instances / microservers, so I just dispose of infrastructure that flakes out. Occassionally I’ll need to see what’s up with a box so I’ve put together some common invocations of inxi below for reference:

Common Invocations

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