Grouping Hosts and Variables - Ansible Tutorial

Welcome to the tutorial on grouping hosts and variables in Ansible. Grouping hosts and defining variables allows you to efficiently manage and configure your infrastructure. In this tutorial, we will explore how to group hosts and define variables in Ansible for better organization and management.

Introduction to Grouping Hosts and Variables

In Ansible, you can group your hosts together based on various criteria such as their roles, locations, or environment. Grouping hosts allows you to apply configuration changes or run playbooks on specific groups of hosts rather than individually targeting each host. Additionally, you can define variables at the group level, which enables you to set specific configuration options for a group of hosts. This tutorial will guide you through the process of grouping hosts and defining variables in Ansible.

Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these steps to group hosts and define variables in Ansible:

Step 1: Open the Inventory File

Start by opening your Ansible inventory file in a text editor. The inventory file contains information about your hosts and groups.

Step 2: Define Hosts

In the inventory file, define your hosts using the following syntax:

hostname ansible_host=ip_address ansible_user=username ansible_ssh_private_key_file=path_to_private_key

Replace hostname with the name of the host, ip_address with the IP address or hostname of the host, username with the SSH username, and path_to_private_key with the path to the private key file for authentication.

You can define multiple hosts in the inventory file, each on a separate line, following the same syntax.

Step 3: Create Groups

To group hosts together, you can create groups in the inventory file. Define groups using square brackets ([]) and the desired group name. Place the hostnames belonging to the group below it. Here's an example:



In this example, we have created two groups: web_servers and database_servers.

Step 4: Define Group Variables

To define variables for a group, create a new section in the inventory file using the following syntax:


Replace group_name with the name of the group to which the variables apply. List the variables and their corresponding values below the [group_name:vars] section.

Common Mistakes

  • Forgetting to define hosts or groups in the inventory file.
  • Misconfiguring the group syntax in the inventory file.
  • Not updating the inventory file when adding or removing hosts or groups.
  • Overcomplicating group structures and nesting.
  • Conflicting or duplicate group names.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Q: Can I nest groups within other groups?
    A: Yes, you can nest groups by placing the hostnames under multiple group sections in the inventory file. This allows you to create complex group hierarchies.
  2. Q: How can I access group variables in playbooks?
    A: Group variables can be accessed using the group_vars directory or the groups variable in playbooks. These variables are automatically available when running playbooks.
  3. Q: Can I define variables for individual hosts?
    A: Yes, you can define variables for individual hosts by using the host_vars directory or directly in the inventory file. Individual host variables take precedence over group variables.


Grouping hosts and defining variables in Ansible provides a powerful way to organize and manage your infrastructure. In this tutorial, we covered the step-by-step process of grouping hosts, creating groups, and defining variables in the inventory file. We also highlighted common mistakes to avoid and provided answers to frequently asked questions. With proper host grouping and variable definition, you can efficiently manage your infrastructure and apply configuration changes across targeted groups of hosts using Ansible.