Foreman Config as Code

A while back, the Foreman developers released an Ansible Collection that contains modules to control almost any aspect of a Foreman server. This allows to apply the ‘Infrastructure as Code’ principle to my favorite OS Lifecycle and Deployment tool as well!

So, I dug in and made a role for Ansible which does just that!

TL;DR: Check it out on Github or Ansible Galaxy


Before we look at how it works, we first need to prepare a little network with the correct stuff, below is a small 3-host layout which we’ll use:

  • Hostname:
    OS: CentOS 7
    Foreman version: 2.0.3
    Katello version: 3.15
    IP address:
  • Hostname:
    OS: Debian 10
    Ansible version: ansible-base 2.10.0
    IP address:
  • Hostname:
    OS: N/A

Both systems have the default setup with which it comes out of the box, so no special setup required! Just make sure you can access them as root without password and have Internet access.

Prepare the Ansible control node

Enable the Ansible repository on your system and install the following packages

echo 'deb eoan main' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ansible.list
apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 93C4A3FD7BB9C367
apt update
apt install ansible-base python3-netaddr

After installing Ansible, create a new directory for your Ansible project and download all required Ansible code:

mkdir ~/foreman-ansible
cd ~/foreman-ansible

mkdir roles collections group_vars host_vars

cat <<EOF > requirements.yml
  - name: 'theforeman.foreman'
  - name: 'foreman'
    src: 'thulium_drake.foreman'

cat <<EOF > ansible.cfg
retry_files_enabled = False
inventory           = inventory
remote_user         = root
roles_path          = roles
collections_path    = collections

enable_plugins = theforeman.foreman.foreman, yaml, ini

cat <<EOF > inventory



ansible-galaxy install -r requirements.yml

Install and configure Foreman

Now you’re almost all set! All you now need is a bunch of variables set and you’re good to go. If you look in the ‘playbooks’ folder inside role (located in ~/foreman-ansible/roles/foreman), you can find just that. It is an example variable file based on what I have used in the past for a client.

So copy over the file to your project and start installing:

cd ~/foreman-ansible/
cp roles/foreman/playbooks/groupvars_foreman_infra.yml group_vars/foreman_infra.yml
cp roles/foreman/playbooks/foreman_install.yml .

ansible-playbook foreman_install.yml

This playbook will install the Forklift repo on your Foreman server and run the provided playbooks to install the Foreman server on your system. Afterwards, you can find your fresh Foreman installation at

Now you can start the second playbook to configure it

cd ~/foreman-ansible/
cat <<EOF > foreman_config.yml
- name: 'Configure Foreman'
  hosts: 'foreman'
    - name: 'Configure Foreman'
        name: 'foreman'
ansible-playbook foreman_config.yml

This playbook will configure your Foreman server with among others, the following:

  • Organization & Locations
  • Lifecycle paths
  • Products & Repositories
  • Content Views
    It will create 2 types of CVs (check the role docs for more information):
    • ‘normal’ ones that contain a product’s repos
    • Composites that will contain one or multiple ‘normal’ ones, these are eventually assigned to clients
  • Activation Keys (one for each Lifecycle)
  • Subnets & Domains
  • Host Groups (based on Activation Keys)
  • Host Discovery (check the documentation for additional instructions)

After the playbook completes, you should be able to deploy a fresh installation of CentOS on the 3rd system we added to the lab! Create a new host in Foreman, assign it a Hostgroup and deploy away!

Final remarks

This role will help anyone to deploy a typical Foreman server in their environment in a quick, reproducable manner. However, in order to do so, I made a couple of assumptions when developing it. So it might not be a perfect fit for everyone.

I’m looking forward to hearing about your experiences with this, you can find me on the forums as Thulium-Drake!

Comments from the community:

Foreman 2.4.0 has been released! Follow the quick start to install it.

Foreman 2.3.3 has been released! Follow the quick start to install it.