Using Ansible to automate my Macbook setup


I am soon going to get a new Macbook, and have been thinking about how to setup it quickly and easily. There is Boxen, and while it is awesome at what is does, it does too much for my needs. A quick Google shows there is plenty of other tools and solutions out there like Boxen that automate a Mac setup. While they all looked mostly good, I want something a little more personal, so, let’s reinvent the wheel :D

Configuration management

I noticed that Boxen is build on top of Puppet, nice, however I prefer Ansible, which led me the idea of using Ansible to automate my Macbook setup.

First step, how to install applications. I normally use Homebrew as much as possible to install command line utilities. But normally install GUI apps either through the Mac store or from the developer’s website. Which will not be so nice to try and maintain through Ansible. Looking through brew and Cask however I realized that I will be able to install almost everything I want using just brew and git. awesome!

Browsing through the Ansible module’s, I saw that Homebrew is supported :D So no need to use Ansible command module to call brew! And in normal Ansible fashion, it’s incredibly easy to use.

Example snippet of how to install vim using the homebrew module :

- name: install vim 
    name: vim 
    state: latest

and using cask

- name: install chrome 
    name: google-chrome 
    state: installed 

How simple is that! So now we have all the building blocks to automate the setup of my macbook.


So this is what I build :

Yes, I know, super original name :D

What is does is, it bootstraps getting Ansible by installing pip with easy_install which in turns then install Ansible. From there, the Ansible playbook runs a setup role against localhost that installs homebrew and update it. It then installs the applications listed here. Unfortunately two of the applications is not available through Homebrew, so I download those to my $HOME/Downloads directory. Luckily this is simple to do with Ansible :

Example snippet of how to download a app(Zwift) to $HOME/Downloads :

     local_home: "{{ lookup('env','HOME') }}"

     name: Zwift
     dest: "{{general.local_home}}/Downloads/ZwiftOSX.dmg"

The Ansible role then starts the configuration, which involves getting oh-my-zsh with the theme that I use, and spacemacs from git, clones my dotfiles from my github repository, and copies the respective files to the correct locations.

To make it as easy as possible to install, you can execute the start script locally on your mac with curl as follows :

curl -s | /bin/bash

The script that bootstraps ansible


Ansible is awesome! It provides just the right level of power vs complexity to quickly enable you to build useful automation. While setupmac is really setup for how I like my Macbook, I hope it will be useful to someone who wants to do something similar.

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