Ansible Pilot

Ansible troubleshooting - Error only-builtins

How to Solve the Ansible Error only-builtins Avoid Non-Builtin Actions

November 7, 2023
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Avoid Non-Builtin Actions in Your Ansible Playbooks

In the realm of Ansible playbooks, maintaining consistency and simplicity is key to a successful automation strategy. One way to achieve this is by adhering to the “only-builtins” rule, which emphasizes the usage of built-in actions from the ansible.builtin collection exclusively.

Keeping It Builtin

The “only-builtins” rule acts as a guardrail to ensure that you don’t inadvertently wander into using non-built-in collections, plugins, or modules within your Ansible playbooks. While Ansible’s ecosystem is rich with various extensions, sticking to the built-in collection can streamline your playbook’s structure and maintainability.

Enable the only-builtins Rule

You can enable this rule in your Ansible-lint configuration. By doing so, you instruct Ansible to validate only builtin modules.

Here’s how you can configure this rule:

  - only-builtins

Problematic Code

- name: Example playbook
  hosts: all
    - name: Deploy a Helm chart for Prometheus
      kubernetes.core.helm: # <- Uses a non-builtin collection.
        name: test
        chart_ref: stable/prometheus
        release_namespace: monitoring
        create_namespace: true

In the problematic code above, we can see a playbook that attempts to deploy a Helm chart for Prometheus but uses the kubernetes.core.helm module, which is not part of the built-in ansible.builtin collection.

Ansible Lint Output

WARNING  Listing 1 violation(s) that are fatal
only-builtins: Use only builtin actions. (warning)
only-bultin.yml:5 Task/Handler: Deploy a Helm chart for Prometheus

Read documentation for instructions on how to ignore specific rule violations.

                   Rule Violation Summary                   
 count tag           profile rule associated tags           
     1 only-builtins         opt-in, experimental (warning) 

Passed: 0 failure(s), 1 warning(s) on 1 files. Last profile that met the validation criteria was 'production'. Rating: 5/5 star

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Correcting the Code

To adhere to the “only-builtins” rule, you should rewrite the playbook as follows:

- name: Example playbook
  hosts: localhost
    - name: Run a shell command echo This playbook uses actions from the builtin collection only.

In the corrected code, we replaced the non-built-in kubernetes.core.helm module with a simple module, ensuring that we are using only built-in actions.

The Advantages

  1. Consistency: Relying solely on built-in actions maintains a consistent codebase and makes it easier for other team members to understand and work on your playbooks.

  2. Reduced Dependencies: You won’t have to manage external collections or plugins, simplifying your playbook’s requirements and dependencies.

  3. Enhanced Maintainability: Playbooks based on the “only-builtins” rule are less prone to breaking due to external collection updates, ensuring long-term maintainability.

By adopting the “only-builtins” rule, you’re setting yourself up for more effective and streamlined Ansible automation, which can lead to greater reliability and success in your infrastructure management tasks.


In conclusion, the “only-builtins” rule serves as a valuable guardrail in your Ansible playbook development. By adhering to this rule and using actions exclusively from the ansible.builtin collection, you ensure consistency and reliability in your automation scripts. This practice not only simplifies playbook maintenance but also reduces the chances of compatibility issues when upgrading Ansible or sharing your playbooks with others.

By focusing on using built-in Ansible modules, you harness the full power of the Ansible ecosystem and leverage features that are well-tested and supported. While external collections have their merits, this rule encourages the use of built-ins for a more streamlined and sustainable playbook development process.

To benefit from this rule, remember to enable it in your Ansible-lint configuration. Embracing “only-builtins” not only helps you write more robust playbooks but also contributes to the long-term stability and maintainability of your infrastructure automation.

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