Using Conditionals in Ansible

Conditionals are powerful tools in Ansible that allow you to control the flow of your playbooks based on specified conditions. By using conditionals, you can execute certain tasks or skip them, make decisions, and perform actions based on the state of your hosts. In this tutorial, we will explore how to use conditionals in Ansible.

Introduction to Conditionals

In Ansible, conditionals are defined using the when keyword. The when keyword allows you to specify a condition that determines whether a task should be executed or skipped. Conditionals can be based on various factors, such as host variables, facts, or registered variables.

Let's take a look at an example playbook that uses a conditional:

- name: Install package
    name: my_package
    state: present
  when: ansible_os_family == 'Debian'

In this example, the package installation task will only be executed when the target host's operating system family is Debian.

Using Conditionals in Ansible

Here are the steps to use conditionals in Ansible:

1. Define the Conditional Statement

Define the conditional statement using the when keyword. The conditional statement can be a comparison, a logical expression, or a combination of both. Ansible provides a wide range of operators and functions that you can use in your conditional statements.

2. Specify the Tasks

Specify the tasks that should be executed or skipped based on the condition. Include the when keyword followed by the conditional statement within each task definition.

3. Execute the Playbook

Execute the playbook using the ansible-playbook command. Ansible will evaluate the conditional statements for each task and execute or skip the tasks accordingly.

Common Mistakes with Conditionals

  • Not properly formatting the conditional statement, resulting in syntax errors.
  • Forgetting to include the when keyword before the conditional statement.
  • Using incorrect operators or functions in the conditional statement, leading to unexpected results.
  • Not considering the scope of variables used in the conditional statement, causing incorrect evaluations.
  • Overcomplicating conditionals by including too many conditions or nested expressions, making the playbook difficult to understand and maintain.

FAQs about Using Conditionals in Ansible

  1. Q: Can I use multiple conditions in a conditional statement?

    A: Yes, you can use multiple conditions by combining them using logical operators such as and or or. For example, when: condition1 and condition2.

  2. Q: Can I use variables in conditional statements?

    A: Yes, you can use variables in conditional statements. Make sure the variables are defined and accessible in the scope where the conditional statement is evaluated.

  3. Q: How can I negate a condition?

    A: You can negate a condition by using the not keyword. For example, when: not condition.


Conditionals provide a powerful mechanism for controlling the flow of your Ansible playbooks based on specific conditions. By using conditionals, you can make your automation code more flexible and adaptable to different scenarios. By following the steps and best practices outlined in this tutorial, you can effectively use conditionals in Ansible and create dynamic and responsive automation workflows.