Ansible Pilot

Ansible troubleshooting - The Module Dilemma

A Deep Dive into Resolving Errors in Ansible

Explore the challenges and solutions surrounding the module in Ansible playbooks, highlighting module path errors and collection management nuances.
February 3, 2024
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In the evolving landscape of IT automation, Ansible has emerged as a pivotal tool for orchestrating and automating cloud resources, especially within the Amazon Web Services (AWS) ecosystem. A common yet perplexing issue many users encounter involves the module. This error, primarily occurring during playbook execution, underscores the importance of understanding Ansible’s module hierarchy, collection management, and inventory specification.

The Error Unpacked

When attempting to execute an Ansible playbook that utilizes the module, users may face an error indicating that the module could not be resolved. This error is often accompanied by warnings regarding the absence of a parsed inventory or the provision of an empty hosts list. The issue typically points towards one of three underlying problems: a misspelling, a missing collection, or an incorrect module path.

Understanding the Root Causes

  1. Misspelling and Incorrect Module Path: The Ansible ecosystem has evolved, with many modules migrating from the core Ansible package to specific collections. If the playbook references an outdated module path or if there’s a typo, Ansible will fail to locate the module.

  2. Missing Collection: This error suggests that the required collection, in this context, is not installed or not recognized by Ansible. Collections bundle related modules, plugins, and roles for managing specific technologies or platforms, such as AWS.

  3. Inventory Issues: The warnings about the inventory indicate that Ansible is not configured to target any remote hosts. The playbook execution defaults to localhost, which may not be the intended target for creating EC2 instances.

Resolving the Error

To successfully navigate and resolve these issues, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure Correct Module Reference: First, verify the module name and ensure it is correctly referenced in the playbook. As of collection version 7.1.0, the correct usage is However, note that this module might redirect to as part of Ansible’s reorganization efforts.

  2. Install the Necessary Collections: Ensure that the collection is installed. This can be achieved through the Ansible Galaxy command line tool:

    ansible-galaxy collection install

    If you’re redirected to use a module from another collection (, ensure that collection is also installed.

  3. Configure Your Inventory: Address the inventory warnings by specifying a valid inventory source. This could be a static inventory file or a dynamic inventory script that targets AWS. Ensure your playbook specifies the correct hosts to target for EC2 instance creation.

  4. Update Ansible and Collections: Keeping your Ansible engine and collections up to date can resolve issues caused by outdated modules or compatibility problems.

Example Playbook Snippet Correction

Here’s an example of how to correctly reference the ec2_instance module within the collection:

- hosts: localhost
  gather_facts: false
    - name: Create an EC2 instance
        name: MyEC2Instance

Ensure you have the appropriate AWS credentials configured, either through environment variables, AWS credential profiles, or Ansible variables.


Errors related to Ansible collections and modules, like the issue, are common stumbling blocks. However, they offer valuable learning opportunities to deepen your understanding of Ansible’s architecture and best practices. By meticulously verifying module paths, ensuring the presence of necessary collections, and properly configuring inventories, you can harness the full potential of Ansible for automating AWS infrastructure with confidence and efficiency.

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