• author: Christian Lempa

Automate Your Home Lab with Ansible Zema 4

Have you ever wanted to automate all the mundane tasks in your home lab with Ansible but found the command-line interface too complex? Look no further, because Ansible Zema 4 is an incredible web UI for Ansible that is super simple, lightweight, and, of course, free and open-source. It's perfect for everyone who wants to automate things in Ansible, whether it's updating servers, building and deploying applications, or running scheduled cleanup tasks. In this article, we'll show you how to install Ansible Zema 4 and go through some of the things you can do with it.

How to Install

If you're entirely new to Ansible, check out some older videos about it to get foundational knowledge. To install Ansible Zema 4, you can run a simple snap command on a Linux machine or use the provided Linux packages. The .deb packages are for Debian-based Linux distros like Ubuntu, and the .rpm packages are for Red Hat-based distros like Centos, Rocky Linux, and so on. You can also find an example Docker compose file if you prefer to install it in a container.

The authors recommend deploying everything in a container because it's the easiest way - if you feel the same you can head to their personal GitHub to find a simplified version of the Docker compose file that they created, which can be used as a template.

Playbooks and Templates

Once you've installed Ansible Zema 4, you can start using its web UI to manage Ansible playbooks. The authors showcase a few of these playbooks and templates that they use in their home lab:

  • Update playbooks: The authors have two update playbooks - one for their production servers and one for demo servers - that run an apt upgrade command on all their Linux machines every weekend. These playbooks also notify them when a server needs a restart.
  • Disk space checker: The authors use a playbook that checks the disk space on all their servers every day and sends them a notification when a server is eating up more than 80% of disk space.
  • Installation playbook: The authors use an installation playbook that ensures all their servers have the right packages installed.

These playbooks are available in the authors' boilerplates repository on GitHub. You can use them as templates or share your own playbooks with the community. If you want to build your playbooks, take a look at the templates the authors have shared.

Important Notes

When working with Ansible Zema 4, remember to:

  • Always enable dark mode.
  • Protect Ansible Zema 4 with a reverse proxy like traffic or nginx, and don't store secrets like passwords or encryption keys as plain text in your compose file.
  • Use Ansible Zema 4's webhooks to send notifications to third-party apps like Discord.

Setting up Ansible in Your Home Lab

If you have a home lab up and running, the next step is to automate it with Ansible. Ansible is a powerful open-source automation tool that can help you automate all sorts of processes in your home lab. In this article, we will guide you through the steps of setting up Ansible in your home lab using Ansible Xenomorph.

Step-by-Step Guide

Here is a step-by-step guide to set up Ansible in your home lab:

  1. Enable Dark Mode: Always enable dark mode in Ansible Xenomorph. This is really important because real ID guys should never work without dark mode.

  2. Set up Three Main Things: As you may know from Ansible tutorials, you need to set up the following three main things to work with Ansible:

    • Inventory: It is basically a set of IP addresses or DNS names from which Ansible knows where and how to connect to your machines.
    • Secure Authentication: Set up a user with SSH keys and define a pseudo password for becoming the root user.
    • Playbooks: They always need to be stored in a git repository.
  3. Add SSH Key: In Ansible Xenomorph, add a new SSH key in the key store. Select the type SSH and paste your private SSH key. Also, define the user that this key should be used for.

  4. Add Pseudo Password: If some of your playbooks need a pseudo password to become the root user, create a new key for storing these credentials as well. Switch the type to login with password and add your sudo passwords into this field.

  5. Create Inventory: You can select three different types of inventories in Ansible Xenomorph: static, managed and stored in Ansible xenomorph itself; yaml formatting; or link any inventory file that exists in the file system. Add a new simple static inventory file, fill it with your demo machines' DNS names and IPs, and add the private SSH key and sudo password we've just created as preferred user credentials and sudo credentials.

  6. Add Repository: Add a new repository where you want to store your playbooks in. Select the proper branch (typically the main branch of the repository), and the access key none that we have created as a placeholder.

  7. Add Environment: Add an environment in Ansible Xenomorph that is useful to pass different environment variables or arguments to your Ansible jobs. Add at least one environment in Ansible demo for, and fill it with two empty curly brackets.

  8. Define Templates: Define templates for running the actual playbooks. This can be done in three different ways: as normal tasks, build tasks, or deploy tasks. We always use the type task that is what we're doing all the time and it's totally fine for running any playbooks that do installing packages, update packages or configuring applications.

  9. Create a Simple Playbook: Create a simple playbook to update all the APT packages on the machines. Open VS Code and create a new folder in the Ansible Xenomorph tutorial directory. Call it playbooks and add a new Ansible playbook which you've called update app packages.yaml.

  10. Push the Playbook: Push the newly created playbook to the git and you're done.

Using Ansible Zema for Managing Ansible Automation Tasks in Your Home Lab

Are you tired of manually updating all the APT packages on your machines? Well, Ansible can automate this task for you and make your life easier. In this article, we will explore how to use Ansible Zema - a web-based user interface for Ansible automation.

Defining Hosts

Before we begin, let's define the hosts in our inventory. We'll set it to all and switch from the regular user to the root user with a become: true statement, since this is an administrative task.

Defining Tasks

We can now define our tasks, starting with a simple one to update all the APT packages on the machines. This task can be added to a playbook and pushed to the Git repository. Simply commit the changes with any message and sync these changes to the branch defined in Ansible Zema.

Configuring the Template

In Ansible Zema, put the correct file name for the playbook in the playbook file name field. Since it's stored in subfolders, add the full path of the playbook. Select the inventory, set the correct repository to videos, and add your environment, such as all.

Customizations can be made to templates by adding variables, customizing arguments, or scheduling using a cron expression.

Running the Template

Once the template is created, it can be run manually by clicking on "actions" and selecting "run". For quick tests, select the "dry run" option. When the playbook is executed, a window opens showing the tasks being done, similar to the Ansible CLI. A history of all tasks executed can be viewed in the list.


For quick testing with a dry run, no tasks will be executed on the machines. When running the playbook without the dry run flag, tasks will be executed. The duration of execution will depend on the machines' current updates and configuration.

After execution, all app packages should be up to date. Ansible Zema also allows for user management and centralized repository for playbooks, making it a great option for managing different environments such as production and testing.

Overall, Ansible Zema is a powerful tool for managing Ansible tasks in your home lab. It also has advanced features that allow for building pipelines and similar processes. It's simple enough for any home lab user to use, making it a great addition to your automation toolkit.Ansible zema 4 is a fantastic web ui that simplifies ansible automation for everyone. with its intuitive interface and powerful features, it's perfect for those who want to automate their home labs without struggling with ansible's command-line interface.
Congratulations, you have successfully set up ansible in your home lab using ansible xenomorph. by automating your processes with ansible, you can save yourself time and effort and streamline your home lab operations.

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