Using IPA for user authentication and RBAC in Ansible Tower

Ansible is a great orchestration tool. Ansible Tower is the enterprise version of Ansible adding features like a WebUI, RestAPI and others.

Tower has also some features like role-based access control allowing to control which user is allowed to run which playbooks on which infrastructure, servers and so on.

In larger environments, this is not done manually but using a centrally managed Identity Management System such as Redhat IdM with IPA or Microsoft Active Directory.

This post covers how to set up Ansible Tower to leverage the use of IPA features in a simple way. Its going to use one Organizaion.

License needed

Unfortunately Tower is not yet an open source with an upstream project, this will still take some time, please be patient. Please ensure you got a license for the “standard” or “premium” edition of Ansible Tower since this is a requirement for LDAP integration, please see

Preparation in IPA

Create a bind user for Ansible

ldapmodify -x -D 'cn=Directory Manager' -W <<EOF
dn: uid=ansible,cn=sysaccounts,cn=etc,dc=example,dc=com
changetype: add
objectclass: account
objectclass: simplesecurityobject
uid: system
userPassword: supersecret
passwordExpirationTime: 20380119031407Z
nsIdleTimeout: 0

Lets create the group in IPA

ipa2:~# ipa group-add --nonposix ansible
ipa2:~# ipa group-add-member ansible --users=jdoe

The default behavior is that every user in IPA/LDAP can log in to Tower, if not assigned to a Team, the user has no privileges, however, this is not something you want. Therefore the group “ansible” is used to restrict logins to users of that group.

LDAP tree

Non-Kerberized Web application usually query the compat LDAP tree for authentication. However, the compat tree does not expose all the required LDAP attributes (yet) I.e sn or mail are missing. There is a request for enhancement pending, see also

We are going to customize the LDAP queries for the “normal” LDAP tree in IPA. Unfortunately this means it only works with with users created in IPA. If you are using a cross domain trust with Microsoft Active directory, the AD users are not able to log in in Ansible Tower. In such a case, set up Ansible Tower to query AD directly.

Configuring Ansible Tower

Edit the file /etc/tower/conf.d/ and add/edit the following lines to be able to look up users and groups:

AUTH_LDAP_BIND_DN = 'uid=ansible,cn=sysaccounts,cn=etc,dc=example,dc=com'
    'first_name': 'givenName',
    'last_name': 'sn',
    'email': 'mail',
    'cn=groups,cn=accounts,dc=example,dc=com',    # Base DN

If you want to prevent any user to login to Ansible Tower, you can restrict it to one group, in this example a user must be member of the group ansible to be able to log in. This is strongly recommended

AUTH_LDAP_REQUIRE_GROUP = 'cn=ansible,cn=groups,cn=accounts,dc=example,dc=com'

You can also define a ipa group which gets automatically the superuser role assigned.

    'is_superuser': 'cn=admins,cn=groups,cn=accounts,dc=example,dc=com',

Next will be how to auto assign users to teams, this will be done later in a separate post.

Have fun 🙂

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