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Ansible troubleshooting - Error: name[prefix]

How to Solve the Ansible Error name[prefix]

November 6, 2023
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In the world of Ansible, effective organization and naming conventions are paramount. It’s these names that help you identify and document tasks and plays, which is vital for clarity, troubleshooting, and understanding the operations being executed. Ansible has several rules to ensure proper naming, one of which is name[prefix].

The Significance of Task Naming

Whether it’s for error checking or a cleaner playbook structure, task naming plays a crucial role in your Ansible code. The name[prefix] rule is designed to help you establish a clear naming structure for tasks, particularly those found in sub-task files.

The name[prefix] Rule

This rule is specific to task files that are not named main.yml. It suggests the inclusion of a prefix in the task name. For example, if you have a task named “Restart server” inside a file named tasks/deploy.yml, the rule recommends renaming it to deploy | Restart server.

Why is This Rule Important?

In complex roles or playbooks with multiple task files, it can often become challenging to understand which task belongs to which file. Adding a prefix, in combination with Ansible’s automatic role name assignment, significantly eases the process of tracking and troubleshooting roles within your playbooks.

How to Implement name[prefix]

It’s important to note that this rule is opt-in, meaning you need to add it to your Ansible Lint enable_list to activate it. Once enabled, it will guide you in prefixing task names in sub-task files for more straightforward playbook organization.

Let’s examine a brief example to understand its significance:

Problematic Code

- hosts: all
    - name: Create placefolder file
      ansible.builtin.command: touch /tmp/.placeholder

Ansible Lint Output

WARNING  <unknown>:1 SyntaxWarning invalid decimal literal
WARNING  Listing 2 violation(s) that are fatal
name[play]: All plays should be named.

no-changed-when: Commands should not change things if nothing needs doing.
name-prefix.yml:4 Task/Handler: Create placefolder file

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

                  Rule Violation Summary                  
 count tag             profile rule associated tags       
     1 name[play]      basic   idiom                      
     1 no-changed-when shared  command-shell, idempotency 

Failed: 2 failure(s), 0 warning(s) on 1 files. Last profile that met the validation criteria was 'min'.

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Correct Code

- name: Play for creating placeholder
  hosts: localhost
    - name: Create placeholder file
      ansible.builtin.command: touch /tmp/.placeholder

By implementing the name[prefix] rule, you enhance your Ansible playbook’s clarity and maintainability.

Note: The name[prefix] rule is part of Ansible’s effort to improve code standards and enhance the overall Ansible experience. It’s a valuable addition to your Ansible toolkit, especially when dealing with complex, multi-file playbooks.


The name[prefix] rule serves as an optional but highly valuable addition to your Ansible playbook development toolkit. By encouraging the use of prefixes in task names for sub-task files, it significantly improves playbook readability and maintainability, especially in complex roles and playbooks with multiple sub-task files.

The rule’s design, contributed by the Red Hat Community of Practice, aims to address the challenge of identifying which task belongs to which file in intricate Ansible structures. Adding prefixes to task names, combined with Ansible’s automatic role name inclusion, makes it considerably easier to track and troubleshoot role plays, reducing potential confusion and increasing overall efficiency.

While the name[prefix] sub-rule remains optional, considering its adoption can be a wise choice, especially when dealing with extensive Ansible projects. By using this practice in your development, you not only enhance the clarity and organization of your playbooks but also pave the way for smoother troubleshooting and easier collaboration within your Ansible team.

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