Ansible find Module: Locating Files and Directories

Introduction

The find module in Ansible allows you to search for files and directories on remote hosts based on specified criteria. This module provides a powerful mechanism to locate files that meet specific conditions, such as file name patterns, modification times, or ownership. This blog post explores the usage of the find module, its parameters, and real-world examples to demonstrate its effectiveness in searching for files and directories in Ansible playbooks.

Understanding the Concept of find Module

Searching for files and directories is a common task in system administration and automation. The find module in Ansible simplifies this process by providing a consistent way to locate files on remote hosts, allowing you to perform various actions based on the search results.

How to Use the Ansible find Module

The find module is flexible and allows you to define search criteria to locate files and directories. Let’s explore its usage through practical examples:

Syntax and Parameters

The basic syntax of the find module is as follows:

The module accepts the following parameters:

  • paths: (required) Specifies the directories where the search should be performed. You can specify multiple paths using a list.
  • patterns: (optional) Defines the file name pattern to match. You can use wildcards to specify the pattern.
  • age: (optional) Specifies the age of the files to search for. You can use time specifications such as "<number>days", "<number>hours", etc.
  • size: (optional) Defines the size of the files to search for. You can use size specifications such as "<number>c", "<number>k", "<number>M", etc.
  • recurse: (optional) If set to yes, the search will be performed recursively in subdirectories.
  • register: (required) Specifies the variable to store the search results.

Searching for Files and Directories

Let’s start with basic examples of using the find module to search for files and directories:

Example 1: Finding All Files

In this example, the find module will search for all files under the /var/log directory and its subdirectories. The search results will be stored in the log_files variable.

Example 2: Finding Specific Files

In this case, the find module will search for all files with the .conf extension under the /etc and /var/www directories. The search results will be stored in the config_files variable.

Additional Search Criteria

You can also use additional search criteria, such as file age and size, to narrow down the search results:

In this example, the find module will search for log files in the /var/log directory that are older than 7 days. The search results will be stored in the old_log_files variable.

In this case, the find module will search for files in the /var/www directory and its subdirectories that are larger than 10 megabytes. The search results will be stored in the large_files variable.

Real-World Examples

Let’s explore some real-world scenarios where the find module proves useful.

Example 1: Archiving Old Log Files

In a playbook designed to manage log files, you may want to archive log files that are older than a certain period:

In this example, the find module is used to locate log files in the /var/log directory on each log server (defined in the log_servers group) that are older than 30 days. The search results are stored in the old_log_files variable.

The second task uses the archive module to create an archive of each old log file found. The archive files are stored in the /var/log/archive/ directory.

Example 2: Removing Large Temporary Files

In a playbook that performs various tasks on remote servers, temporary files might be generated. You may want to clean up large temporary files to free up disk space:

In this case, the find module is used to search for files larger than 100 megabytes in the /tmp directory on each remote server. The search results are stored in the large_temp_files variable.

The second task uses the file module to remove each large temporary file found.

Conclusion

The Ansible find module provides a versatile way to search for files and directories on remote hosts based on various criteria. By utilizing search patterns, age, and size specifications, you can locate specific files and perform actions accordingly. Throughout this blog post, we explored the concept of the find module, its parameters, and provided real-world examples to demonstrate its practical applications.