How to Create User and Copy SSH Key with Ansible? / Ansible / How to Create User and Copy SSH Key with Ansible?

In this article, we’ll show you how to create user and add your public SSH key to remote Linux servers using Ansible.

Create anscfg user that will be used for remote management via Ansible:

# groupadd -g 2002 anscfg
# useradd -u 2002 -g 2002 -c "Automation Account" -s /bin/bash -m -d /home/anscfg anscfg

Grant the user sudo permissions and set a password:

# usermod -aG wheel anscfg
# passwd anscfg

Log in with a new user account:

# su – anscfg

Create several Ansible directories:

$ mkdir -p {playbooks,scripts,templates}

Generate an SSH key pair:

$ ssh-keygen -t ed25519 -o -a 100 && ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -o -a 100

Add the addresses of the remote servers that you will manage to the hosts file:

# nano /etc/hosts nginx1 nginx2 nginx3

Now create an inventory file with Ansible client names and add your Linux hosts:

$ nano /home/anscfg/inventory


ansible inventory file

By default, Ansible uses the /etc/ansible/ansible.cfg configuration file. We will create our own configuration file:

$ nano /home/anscfg/.ansible.cfg

inventory = /home/anscfg/inventory
host_key_checking = False

  • Note the dot before the ansible.cfg name. It tells Ansible to look for configuration files in the user’s home directory;
  • The host_key_checking = False setting prevents Ansible from running a request to add a client key to known_hosts when running the Ansible playbook.

Create a new playbook useradd.yml:

$ nano /home/anscfg/playbooks/useradd.yml
- hosts: webservers
  become: true

  - name: Create user anscfg
      name: anscfg
      password: set user password hash here. Ansible will not let you pass the password in clear text. Get your password hash with python (see the command below).
      shell: /bin/bash
      groups: wheel
      append: yes

  - name: Create an ssh key for anscfg user in ~anscfg/.ssh/id_rsa
      name: anscfg
      generate_ssh_key: yes
      ssh_key_bits: 2048
      ssh_key_file: .ssh/id_rsa

  - name: Add authorized key from file
      user: anscfg
      state: present
      key: "{{ lookup('file', '/home/anscfg/.ssh/') }}"

ansible playbook to create user and add ssh keys

Use the following command to get the password hash:

python -c 'import crypt; print crypt.crypt("Passw0212")'

This playbook will create a sudo user anscfg on a remote host, and copy your public SSH key.

Set file permissions:

$ chmod 644 /home/anscfg/playbooks/useradd.yml

Now you can run your playbook:

$ ansible-playbook useradd.yml -u remote_user --ask-pass

After running the playbook on remote hosts, you can SSH into them without a password (using the private key):

$ ssh nginx1

If you want to deploy playbooks without entering a password, you can add a username and password to the inventory file:

$ nano /home/anscfg/inventory

nginx1 ansible_ssh_user=anscfg ansible_sudo_pass=<PASS>
nginx2 ansible_ssh_user=anscfg ansible_sudo_pass=<PASS>
nginx3 ansible_ssh_user=anscfg ansible_sudo_pass=<PASS>

Don’t forget to change the permissions on the inventory file to 600.

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