Chapter 15. Execution Environment Setup Reference

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This section contains reference information associated with the definition of an execution environment. You define the content of your execution environment in a YAML file. By default, this file is called execution_environment.yml. This file tells Ansible Builder how to create the build instruction file (Containerfile for Podman, Dockerfile for Docker) and build context for your container image.


The definition schema for Ansible Builder 3.x is documented here. If you are running an older version of Ansible Builder, you need an older schema version. For more information, see older versions of this documentation. We recommend using version 3, which offers substantially more configurable options and functionality than previous versions.

15.1. Execution environment definition example

You must create a definition file to build an image for an execution environment. The file is in YAML format.

You must specify the version of Ansible Builder in the definition file. The default version is 1.

The following definition file is using Ansible Builder version 3:

version: 3
  galaxy: requirements.yml
    - six
    - psutil
  system: bindep.txt
    - src: files/ansible.cfg
      dest: configs
    - ADD _build/configs/ansible.cfg /home/runner/.ansible.cfg
  prepend_final: |
    RUN whoami
    RUN cat /etc/os-release
    - RUN echo This is a post-install command!
    - RUN ls -la /etc

15.2. Configuration options

Use the following configuration YAML keys in your definition file.

The Ansible Builder 3.x execution environment definition file accepts seven top-level sections:

15.2.1. additional_build_files

The build files specify what are to be added to the build context directory. These can then be referenced or copied by additional_build_steps during any build stage.

The format is a list of dictionary values, each with a src and dest key and value.

Each list item must be a dictionary containing the following required keys:


Specifies the source files to copy into the build context directory.

This can be an absolute path, for example, /home/user/.ansible.cfg, or a path that is relative to the file. Relative paths can be a glob expression matching one or more files, for example, files/\*.cfg. Note that an absolute path must not include a regular expression. If src is a directory, the entire contents of that directory are copied to dest.


Specifies a subdirectory path underneath the _build subdirectory of the build context directory that contains the source files, for example, files/configs.

This cannot be an absolute path or contain .. within the path. This directory is created for you if it does not exist.


When using an ansible.cfg file to pass a token and other settings for a private account to an automation hub server, listing the configuration file path here as a string enables it to be included as a build argument in the initial phase of the build.

15.2.2. additional_build_steps

The build steps specify custom build commands for any build phase. These commands are inserted directly into the build instruction file for the container runtime, for example, Containerfile or Dockerfile. The commands must conform to any rules required by the containerization tool.

You can add build steps before or after any stage of the image creation process. For example, if you need git to be installed before you install your dependencies, you can add a build step at the end of the base build stage.

The following are the valid keys. Each supports either a multi-line string, or a list of strings.


Commands to insert after building of the base image.


Commands to insert after building of the builder image.


Commands to insert after building of the final image.


Commands to insert after building of the galaxy image.


Commands to insert before building of the base image.


Commands to insert before building of the builder image.


Commands to insert before building of the final image.


Commands to insert before building of the galaxy image.

15.2.3. build_arg_defaults

This specifies the default values for build arguments as a dictionary.

This is an alternative to using the --build-arg CLI flag.

Ansible Builder uses the following build arguments:


Enables the user to pass the -pre flag and other flags to enable the installation of pre-release collections.


This enables the user to pass any flags, such as --no-deps, to the role installation.


This controls how often the package manager cache is cleared during the image build process.

If this value is not set, which is the default, the cache is cleared frequently. If the value is always, the cache is never cleared. Any other value forces the cache to be cleared only after the system dependencies are installed in the final build stage.

Ansible Builder hard-codes values given inside of build_arg_defaults into the build instruction file, so they persist if you run your container build manually.

If you specify the same variable in the definition and at the command line with the CLI build-arg flag, the CLI value overrides the value in the definition.

15.2.4. Dependencies

Specifies dependencies to install into the final image, including ansible-core, ansible-runner, Python packages, system packages, and collections. Ansible Builder automatically installs dependencies for any Ansible collections you install.

In general, you can use standard syntax to constrain package versions. Use the same syntax you would pass to dnf, pip, ansible-galaxy, or any other package management utility. You can also define your packages or collections in separate files and reference those files in the dependencies section of your definition file.

The following keys are valid:


The version of the ansible-core Python package to be installed.

This value is a dictionary with a single key, package_pip. The package_pip value is passed directly to pip for installation and can be in any format that pip supports. The following are some example values:

    package_pip: ansible-core
    package_pip: ansible-core==2.14.3


The version of the Ansible Runner Python package to be installed.

This value is a dictionary with a single key, package_pip. The package_pip value is passed directly to pip for installation and can be in any format that pip supports. The following are some example values:

    package_pip: ansible-runner
    package_pip: ansible-runner==2.3.2


Collections to be installed from Ansible Galaxy.

This can be a filename, a dictionary, or a multi-line string representation of an Ansible Galaxy requirements.yml file. For more information about the requirements file format, see the Galaxy User Guide.


The Python installation requirements.

This can be a filename, or a list of requirements. Ansible Builder combines all the Python requirements files from all collections into a single file using the requirements-parser library.

This library supports complex syntax, including references to other files. If many collections require the same package name, Ansible Builder combines them into a single entry and combines the constraints.

Ansible Builder excludes some packages in the combined file of Python dependencies even if a collection lists them as dependencies. These include test packages and packages that provide Ansible itself. The full list can is available under EXCLUDE_REQUIREMENTS in src/ansible_builder/_target_scripts/

If you need to include one of these excluded package names, use the --user-pip option of the introspect command to list it in the user requirements file.

Packages supplied this way are not processed against the list of excluded Python packages.


A dictionary that defines the Python system package name to be installed by dnf (package_system) or a path to the Python interpreter to be used (python_path).


The system packages to be installed, in bindep format. This can be a filename or a list of requirements.

For more information about bindep, see the OpenDev documentation.

For system packages, use the bindep format to specify cross-platform requirements, so they can be installed by whichever package management system the execution environment uses. Collections must specify necessary requirements for [platform:rpm]. Ansible Builder combines system package entries from multiple collections into a single file. Only requirements with no profiles (runtime requirements) are installed to the image. Entries from many collections which are duplicates of each other can be consolidated in the combined file.

The following example uses filenames that contain the various dependencies:

  python: requirements.txt
  system: bindep.txt
  galaxy: requirements.yml
      package_pip: ansible-core==2.14.2
      package_pip: ansible-runner==2.3.1
      package_system: "python310"
      python_path: "/usr/bin/python3.10"

This example uses inline values:

    - pywinrm
    - iputils [platform:rpm]
      - name:
      - name: ansible.utils
        version: 2.10.1
      package_pip: ansible-core==2.14.2
      package_pip: ansible-runner==2.3.1
      package_system: "python310"
      python_path: "/usr/bin/python3.10"

If any of these dependency files (requirements.txt, bindep.txt, and requirements.yml) are in the build_ignore of the collection, the build fails.

Collection maintainers can verify that ansible-builder recognizes the requirements they expect by using the introspect command:

ansible-builder introspect --sanitize ~/.ansible/collections/

The --sanitize option reviews all of the collection requirements and removes duplicates. It also removes any Python requirements that are normally excluded (see python dependencies).

Use the -v3 option to introspect to see logging messages about requirements that are being excluded.

15.2.5. images

Specifies the base image to be used. At a minimum you must specify a source, image, and tag for the base image. The base image provides the operating system and can also provide some packages. Use the standard host/namespace/container:tag syntax to specify images. You can use Podman or Docker shortcut syntax instead, but the full definition is more reliable and portable.

Valid keys for this section are:


A dictionary defining the parent image for the execution environment.

A name key must be supplied with the container image to use. Use the signature_original_name key if the image is mirrored within your repository, but signed with the original image’s signature key.

15.2.6. Image verification

You can verify signed container images if you are using the podman container runtime.

Set the container-policy CLI option to control how this data is used in relation to a Podman policy.json file for container image signature validation.

  • ignore_all policy: Generate a policy.json file in the build context directory <context> where no signature validation is performed.
  • system policy: Signature validation is performed using pre-existing policy.json files in standard system locations. ansible-builder assumes no responsibility for the content within these files, and the user has complete control over the content.
  • signature_required policy: ansible-builder uses the container image definitions to generate a policy.json file in the build context directory <context> that is used during the build to validate the images.

15.2.7. options

A dictionary of keywords or options that can affect the runtime functionality Ansible Builder.

Valid keys for this section are:

  • container_init: A dictionary with keys that allow for customization of the container ENTRYPOINT and CMD directives (and related behaviors). Customizing these behaviors is an advanced task, and can result failures that are difficult to debug. Because the provided defaults control several intertwined behaviors, overriding any value skips all remaining defaults in this dictionary.

    Valid keys are:

    • cmd: Literal value for the CMD Containerfile directive. The default value is ["bash"].
    • entrypoint: Literal value for the ENTRYPOINT Containerfile directive. The default entrypoint behavior handles signal propagation to subprocesses, as well as attempting to ensure at runtime that the container user has a proper environment with a valid writeable home directory, represented in /etc/passwd, with the HOME environment variable set to match. The default entrypoint script can emit warnings to stderr in cases where it is unable to suitably adjust the user runtime environment. This behavior can be ignored or elevated to a fatal error; consult the source for the entrypoint target script for more details.

      The default value is ["/opt/builder/bin/entrypoint", "dumb-init"].

    • package_pip: Package to install with pip for entrypoint support. This package is installed in the final build image.

      The default value is dumb-init==1.2.5.

  • package_manager_path: string with the path to the package manager (dnf or microdnf) to use. The default is /usr/bin/dnf. This value is used to install a Python interpreter, if specified in dependencies, and during the build phase by the assemble script.
  • skip_ansible_check: This boolean value controls whether or not the check for an installation of Ansible and Ansible Runner is performed on the final image.

    Set this value to True to not perform this check.

    The default is False.

  • relax_passwd_permissions: This boolean value controls whether the root group (GID 0) is explicitly granted write permission to /etc/passwd in the final container image. The default entrypoint script can attempt to update /etc/passwd under some container runtimes with dynamically created users to ensure a fully-functional POSIX user environment and home directory. Disabling this capability can cause failures of software features that require users to be listed in /etc/passwd with a valid and writeable home directory, for example, async in ansible-core, and the ~username shell expansion.

    The default is True.

  • workdir: Default current working directory for new processes started under the final container image. Some container runtimes also use this value as HOME for dynamically-created users in the root (GID 0) group. When this value is specified, if the directory does not already exist, it is created, set to root group ownership, and rwx group permissions are recursively applied to it.

    The default value is /runner.

  • user: This sets the username or UID to use as the default user for the final container image.

    The default value is 1000.

Example options:

        package_pip: dumb-init>=1.2.5
        entrypoint: '["dumb-init"]'
        cmd: '["csh"]'
    package_manager_path: /usr/bin/microdnf
    relax_password_permissions: false
    skip_ansible_check: true
    workdir: /myworkdir
    user: bob

15.2.8. version

An integer value that sets the schema version of the execution environment definition file.

Defaults to 1.

The value must be 3 if you are using Ansible Builder 3.x.

15.3. Default execution environment for AWX

The example in test/data/pytz requires the awx.awx collection in the definition. The lookup plugin awx.awx.tower_schedule_rrule requires the PyPI pytz and another library to work. If the test/data/pytz/execution-environment.yml file is provided to the ansible-builder build command, it installs the collection inside the image, reads the requirements.txt file inside of the collection, and then installs pytz into the image.

The image produced can be used inside of an ansible-runner project by placing these variables inside the env/settings file, inside the private data directory.

container_image: image-name
process_isolation_executable: podman # or docker
process_isolation: true

The awx.awx collection is a subset of content included in the default AWX .

For further information, see the awx-ee repository.

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