/Ansible 2.9

password – retrieve or generate a random password, stored in a file


  • Generates a random plaintext password and stores it in a file at a given filepath.
  • If the file exists previously, it will retrieve its contents, behaving just like with_file.
  • Usage of variables like "{{ inventory_hostname }}" in the filepath can be used to set up random passwords per host, which simplifies password management in "host_vars" variables.
  • A special case is using /dev/null as a path. The password lookup will generate a new random password each time, but will not write it to /dev/null. This can be used when you need a password without storing it on the controller.


Parameter Choices/Defaults Configuration Comments
- / required
path to the file that stores/will store the passwords
Define comma separated list of names that compose a custom character set in the generated passwords.
By default generated passwords contain a random mix of upper and lowercase ASCII letters, the numbers 0-9 and punctuation (". , : - _").
They can be either parts of Python's string module attributes (ascii_letters,digits, etc) or are used literally ( :, -).
To enter comma use two commas ',,' somewhere - preferably at the end. Quotes and double quotes are not supported.
Which hash scheme to encrypt the returning password, should be one hash scheme from passlib.hash.
If not provided, the password will be returned in plain text.
Note that the password is always stored as plain text, only the returning password is encrypted.
Encrypt also forces saving the salt value for idempotence.
Note that before 2.6 this option was incorrectly labeled as a boolean for a long time.
The length of the generated password.



  • A great alternative to the password lookup plugin, if you don’t need to generate random passwords on a per-host basis, would be to use Vault in playbooks. Read the documentation there and consider using it first, it will be more desirable for most applications.
  • If the file already exists, no data will be written to it. If the file has contents, those contents will be read in as the password. Empty files cause the password to return as an empty string.
  • As all lookups, this runs on the Ansible host as the user running the playbook, and “become” does not apply, the target file must be readable by the playbook user, or, if it does not exist, the playbook user must have sufficient privileges to create it. (So, for example, attempts to write into areas such as /etc will fail unless the entire playbook is being run as root).


- name: create a mysql user with a random password
    name: "{{ client }}"
    password: "{{ lookup('password', 'credentials/' + client + '/' + tier + '/' + role + '/mysqlpassword length=15') }}"
    priv: "{{ client }}_{{ tier }}_{{ role }}.*:ALL"

- name: create a mysql user with a random password using only ascii letters
    name: "{{ client }}"
    password: "{{ lookup('password', '/tmp/passwordfile chars=ascii_letters') }}"
    priv: '{{ client }}_{{ tier }}_{{ role }}.*:ALL'

- name: create a mysql user with an 8 character random password using only digits
    name: "{{ client }}"
    password: "{{ lookup('password', '/tmp/passwordfile length=8 chars=digits') }}"
    priv: "{{ client }}_{{ tier }}_{{ role }}.*:ALL"

- name: create a mysql user with a random password using many different char sets
    name: "{{ client }}"
    password: "{{ lookup('password', '/tmp/passwordfile chars=ascii_letters,digits,hexdigits,punctuation') }}"
    priv: "{{ client }}_{{ tier }}_{{ role }}.*:ALL"

Return Values

Common return values are documented here, the following are the fields unique to this lookup:

Key Returned Description
a password




If you notice any issues in this documentation, you can edit this document to improve it.


Configuration entries for each entry type have a low to high priority order. For example, a variable that is lower in the list will override a variable that is higher up.

© 2012–2018 Michael DeHaan
© 2018–2019 Red Hat, Inc.
Licensed under the GNU General Public License version 3.