Using Testinfra with Ansible to verify server state

Testinfra is a powerful library for writing tests to verify an infrastructure's state. Coupled with Ansible and Nagios, it offers a simple solution to enforce infrastructure as code.
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By design, Ansible expresses the desired state of a machine to ensure that the content of an Ansible playbook or role is deployed to the targeted machines. But what if you need to make sure all the infrastructure changes are in Ansible? Or verify the state of a server at any time?

Testinfra is an infrastructure testing framework that makes it easy to write unit tests to verify the state of a server. It is a Python library and uses the powerful pytest test engine.

Getting started with Testinfra

Testinfra can be easily installed using the Python package manager (pip) and a Python virtual environment.

$ python3 -m venv venv
$ source venv/bin/activate
(venv) $ pip install testinfra

Testinfra is also available in the package repositories of Fedora and CentOS using the EPEL repository. For example, on CentOS 7 you can install it with the following commands:

$ yum install -y epel-release
$ yum install -y python-testinfra

A simple test script

Writing tests in Testinfra is easy. Using the code editor of your choice, add the following to a file named

import testinfra

def test_os_release(host):
    assert host.file("/etc/os-release").contains("Fedora")

def test_sshd_inactive(host):
    assert host.service("sshd").is_running is False

By default, Testinfra provides a host object to the test case; this object gives access to different helper modules. For example, the first test uses the file module to verify the content of the file on the host, and the second test case uses the service module to check the state of a systemd service.

To run these tests on your local machine, execute the following command:

(venv)$ pytest
================================ test session starts ================================
platform linux -- Python 3.7.3, pytest-4.4.1, py-1.8.0, pluggy-0.9.0
rootdir: /home/cverna/Documents/Python/testinfra
plugins: testinfra-3.0.0
collected 2 items ..

================================ 2 passed in 0.05 seconds ================================

More on Ansible

For a full list of Testinfra's APIs, you can consult the documentation.

Testinfra and Ansible

One of Testinfra's supported backends is Ansible, which means Testinfra can directly use Ansible's inventory file and a group of machines defined in the inventory to run tests against them.

Let's use the following inventory file as an example:



We want to make sure that our Apache web server service is running on app-frontend01 and app-frontend02. Let's write the test in a file called

def check_httpd_service(host):
    """Check that the httpd service is running on the host"""
    assert host.service("httpd").is_running

To run this test using Testinfra and Ansible, use the following command:

(venv) $ pip install ansible
(venv) $ py.test --hosts=web --ansible-inventory=inventory --connection=ansible

When invoking the tests, we use the Ansible inventory [web] group as the targeted machines and also specify that we want to use Ansible as the connection backend.

Using the Ansible module

Testinfra also provides a nice API to Ansible that can be used in the tests. The Ansible module enables access to run Ansible plays inside a test and makes it easy to inspect the result of the play.

def check_ansible_play(host):
    Verify that a package is installed using Ansible
    package module
    assert not host.ansible("package", "name=httpd state=present")["changed"]

By default, Ansible's Check Mode is enabled, which means that Ansible will report what would change if the play were executed on the remote host.

Testinfra and Nagios

Now that we can easily run tests to validate the state of a machine, we can use those tests to trigger alerts on a monitoring system. This is a great way to catch unexpected changes.

Testinfra offers an integration with Nagios, a popular monitoring solution. By default, Nagios uses the NRPE plugin to execute checks on remote hosts, but using Testinfra allows you to run the tests directly from the Nagios master.

To get a Testinfra output compatible with Nagios, we have to use the --nagios flag when triggering the test. We also use the -qq pytest flag to enable pytest's quiet mode so all the test details will not be displayed.

(venv) $ py.test --hosts=web --ansible-inventory=inventory --connection=ansible --nagios -qq line 
TESTINFRA OK - 1 passed, 0 failed, 0 skipped in 2.55 seconds

Testinfra is a powerful library for writing tests to verify an infrastructure's state. Coupled with Ansible and Nagios, it offers a simple solution to enforce infrastructure as code. It is also a key component of adding testing during the development of your Ansible roles using Molecule.

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Open Source enthusiast, I am a member of the Community Platform Engineering team @Red Hat meaning that I spend most of my time hacking around Fedora and CentOS infrastructure's. I enjoy writing about Agile and DevOps and also how to form great teams.


Nice article

Very Informative!


This was good, it almost broke the 3 tasks into one to test the package is installed or not.

Thanks a lot for this. It's good to know there are ways of verifying our infrastructure instead of treating infrastructure as a set it and forget it kind of thing.

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