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Ansible vs Fabric: What are the differences?

Introduction

Ansible and Fabric are both popular automation tools used in IT infrastructure management. While they serve similar purposes, there are several key differences between them. In this article, we will explore these differences and understand when to use each tool.

  1. Target Environment: Ansible is designed to work on both Windows and Unix-like systems, whereas Fabric is mainly targeted at Unix-like systems. This makes Ansible a more versatile choice for organizations with heterogeneous environments.

  2. Architecture: Ansible uses a push-based architecture, where the control machine pushes configuration instructions to remote hosts. On the other hand, Fabric uses a pull-based architecture, where remote hosts pull commands from the control machine. This architectural difference impacts how tasks are executed and how inventory and authentication are handled.

  3. Language and Learning Curve: Ansible uses YAML-based declarative syntax, which is generally easier to learn and read for beginners. Fabric, on the other hand, uses Python-based procedural code, which requires more programming knowledge. Ansible's simpler syntax makes it more accessible to non-programmers.

  4. Scalability: Ansible is designed to handle large-scale deployments with thousands of hosts efficiently. It does so by using the SSH connection multiplexing feature. In contrast, Fabric is not optimized for large-scale deployments and may face performance issues when dealing with a large number of hosts.

  5. Community and Ecosystem: Ansible has a larger and more active user community, which translates into a broader range of community-supported modules, playbooks, and integrations. This extensive ecosystem makes Ansible a preferred choice in many cases, as it provides more readily available solutions and support.

  6. Maturity and Stability: Ansible is a more mature tool with a longer history and stable release cycle. Fabric, although still actively developed, has a smaller user base and may be perceived as less mature. This perceived difference in stability and maturity may influence the choice of tool for organizations with strict reliability requirements.

In Summary, Ansible and Fabric have key differences in target environment, architecture, language, scalability, community, and maturity. Organizations choosing between them should consider factors such as the systems in their environment, the complexity of automation tasks, the availability of community resources, and the stability requirements of their infrastructure.

Advice on Ansible and Fabric
Needs advice
on
AnsibleAnsible
and
RundeckRundeck

We have a lot of operations running using Rundeck (including deployments) and we also have various roles created in Ansible for infrastructure creation, which we execute using Rundeck. Rundeck we are using a community edition. Since we are already using Rundeck for executing the Ansible role, need an advice. What difference will it make if we replace Rundeck with Ansible Tower? Advantages and Disadvantages? We are using Jenkins to call Rundeck Job, same will be used for Ansible Tower if we replace Rundeck.

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Replies (1)
Denis Gukov

I never use Tower, but I can recommend Ansible Semaphore as alternative to Rundeck. It is lightweight, easy to use and tailored for work with Ansible.

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Rogério R. Alcântara
Needs advice
on
AnsibleAnsibleChefChef
and
Puppet LabsPuppet Labs
in

Personal Dotfiles management

Given that they are all “configuration management” tools - meaning they are designed to deploy, configure and manage servers - what would be the simplest - and yet robust - solution to manage personal dotfiles - for n00bs.

Ideally, I reckon, it should:

  • be containerized (Docker?)
  • be versionable (Git)
  • ensure idempotency
  • allow full automation (tests, CI/CD, etc.)
  • be fully recoverable (Linux/ macOS)
  • be easier to setup/manage (as much as possible)

Does it make sense?

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Replies (3)
terry chay
Principal Engineer at RaiseMe · | 9 upvotes · 60.4K views
Recommends
on
AnsibleAnsible

I recommend whatever you are most comfortable with/whatever might already be installed in the system. Note that, for personal dotfiles, it does not need to be containerized or have full automation/testing. It just needs to handle multiple OS and platform and be idempotent. Git will handle the heavy lifting. Note that you'll have to separate out certain files like the private SSH keys and write your CM so that it will pull it from another store or assist in manually importing them.

I personally use Ansible since it is a serverless design and is in Python, which I prefer to Ruby. Saltstack was too new when I started to port my dotfile management scripts from shell into a configuration management tool. I think any of the above is fine.

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Recommends
on
SaltSalt

You should check out SaltStack. It's a lot more powerful than Puppet, Chef, & Ansible. If not Salt, then I would go Ansible. But stay away from Puppet & Chef. 10+ year user of Puppet, and 2+ year user of Chef.

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Attila Fulop
Management Advisor at artkonekt · | 3 upvotes · 24.2K views
Recommends

Chef is a definite no-go for me. I learned it the hard way (ie. got a few tasks in a prod system) and it took quite a lot to grasp it on an acceptable level. Ansible in turn is much more straightforward and much easier to test.

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Needs advice
on
AnsibleAnsibleChefChef
and
Puppet LabsPuppet Labs

I'm just getting started using Vagrant to help automate setting up local VMs to set up a Kubernetes cluster (development and experimentation only). (Yes, I do know about minikube)

I'm looking for a tool to help install software packages, setup users, etc..., on these VMs. I'm also fairly new to Ansible, Chef, and Puppet. What's a good one to start with to learn? I might decide to try all 3 at some point for my own curiosity.

The most important factors for me are simplicity, ease of use, shortest learning curve.

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Replies (2)
Recommends
on
AnsibleAnsible

I have been working with Puppet and Ansible. The reason why I prefer ansible is the distribution of it. Ansible is more lightweight and therefore more popular. This leads to situations, where you can get fully packaged applications for ansible (e.g. confluent) supported by the vendor, but only incomplete packages for Puppet.

The only advantage I would see with Puppet if someone wants to use Foreman. This is still better supported with Puppet.

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Gabriel Pa
Recommends
on
KubernetesKubernetes
at

If you are just starting out, might as well learn Kubernetes There's a lot of tools that come with Kube that make it easier to use and most importantly: you become cloud-agnostic. We use Ansible because it's a lot simpler than Chef or Puppet and if you use Docker Compose for your deployments you can re-use them with Kubernetes later when you migrate

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Decisions about Ansible and Fabric
Hendrik Halkow

Terraform provides a cloud-provider agnostic way of provisioning cloud infrastructure while AWS CloudFormation is limited to AWS.

Pulumi is a great tool that provides similar features as Terraform, including advanced features like policy and cost management.

We see that Terraform has great support in the cloud community. For most cloud services we use, there is an official Terraform provider. We also believe in the declarative model of HCL, which is why we chose Terraform over Pulumi. However, we still keep an eye on Pulumi's progress.

Ansible is great for provisioning software and configuration within virtual machines, but we don't think that Ansible is the right tool for provisioning cloud infrastructure since it's built around the assumption that there is an inventory of remote machines. Terraform also supports more services that we use than Ansible.

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