Ansible: Handling Multiple Hosts via SSH


To run Ansible playbook in multiple hosts via SSH.


Configuring SSH environment

Ensure SSH keypair exists on the current machine (ex: ~/.ssh/id_rsa for private key and ~/.ssh/ for public key). If you do not have one, create one:


Copy the public key (ex: ~/.ssh/ to each remote host’s ~/.ssh/authorized_keys. If this file doesn’t exist, create it.

Ensure the current machine’s .ssh/ directory and file have correct permission.

chmod 700 ~/.ssh
chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

In the current machine’s /etc/hosts, add all remote hosts.      localhost  # current machine  donkeykong # remote host 1  supermario # remote host 2

In each remote host, enable the remote login and grant yourself the access to this service.

Enabling Remote Login on Mac

Test SSH connection to remote host to ensure they work first before working on Ansible playbook.

ssh user@donkeykong
ssh user@supermario

Creating Ansible Playbook

Create ansible.cfg and define the location of inventory file.

inventory = inventory.yml

Create inventory.yml and define both localhost and remote hosts.

      ansible_connection: local
      ansible_user: user
      ansible_ssh_private_key_file: ~/.ssh/id_rsa
      ansible_user: user
      ansible_ssh_private_key_file: ~/.ssh/id_rsa

Run a test to ensure the connection to remote hosts are successful.

ansible all -i inventory.yml -m ping

If successful, the output looks something like this:

localhost | SUCCESS => {
    "changed": false,
    "ping": "pong"
donkeykong | SUCCESS => {
    "changed": false,
    "ping": "pong"
supermario | SUCCESS => {
    "changed": false,
    "ping": "pong"

Create main.yml with a very simple task.

- name: all-hosts
  hosts: all
    - name: Capture current dir
      shell: pwd
      register: output

    - name: Display output
      debug: msg='{{ output.stdout }}'

Run the playbook.

ansible-playbook main.yml

If successful, the output looks something like this:

PLAY [all-hosts] *******************************************************************************************************

TASK [Gathering Facts] *************************************************************************************************
ok: [localhost]
ok: [donkeykong]
ok: [supermario]

TASK [Capture current dir] *********************************************************************************************
changed: [localhost]
changed: [donkeykong]
changed: [supermario]

TASK [Display output] **************************************************************************************************
ok: [localhost] => {
    "msg": "/Users/user/myshittycode"
ok: [donkeykong] => {
    "msg": "/Users/user"
ok: [supermario] => {
    "msg": "/Users/user"

PLAY RECAP *************************************************************************************************************
donkeykong                 : ok=3    changed=1    unreachable=0    failed=0    skipped=0    rescued=0    ignored=0   
localhost                  : ok=3    changed=1    unreachable=0    failed=0    skipped=0    rescued=0    ignored=0  
supermario                 : ok=3    changed=1    unreachable=0    failed=0    skipped=0    rescued=0    ignored=0   

Controlling the Hosts

Sometimes, you want finer controls on what tasks to be ran in certain hosts.

To run in just one host (ex: donkeykong):

- name: one-host
  hosts: donkeykong
    - ...

To run in all remote hosts except localhost:

- name: all-hosts-except-localhost
  hosts: all:!localhost
    - ...

macOS Big Sur: Poor Screen Quality When Connecting to Old Monitor via HDMI


You have a shiny Mac laptop running macOS Big Sur. This laptop is connected to an old external monitor via HDMI. The screen quality looks pixelated and fuzzy.

Running font smoothing (as below) doesn’t fix the problem:

defaults -currentHost write -g AppleFontSmoothing -int 3

You are poor enough to buy a new 4K monitor.


The usage of HDMI seems to fool macOS Big Sur, thinking your old monitor is a glorious new TV. This causes macOS to use YPbPr instead of RGB mode.

The fix is to perform Extended Display Identification Data (EDID) override to force macOS to use RGB mode.

Some instructions on the web are inaccurate. There’s no need to reboot into Recovery Mode to disable System Integrity Protection (SIP) via csrutil first.

Instead, run the following command:

sudo mkdir -p /Library/Displays/Contents/Resources/Overrides
cd /Library/Displays/Contents/Resources/Overrides
sudo curl -O
sudo ruby patch-edid.rb

Reboot the laptop.