ARM can sometimes be a pain in the ARSE

Lately I’ve been collecting a variety of different computing architectures - from a 32-bit Motion Computing tablet that is super cool but that the Internet hates - to some new ARM servers powered by Ampere Altra CPUs in the AVA and AADP kits. Oh, and I got one of those blue iMAC G3 systems for a little taste of nostalgia too.

Now, some of these systems I’ve been adding to my normal automation routines - the AVA Dev Kit runs RHEL so I just automate it the same for the most part. There are a few differences however, even on the same system.

For instance, when adding my ARM 64 systems to my general system configuration Ansible Automation workflows, I found myself having to change out links to binaries and ISOs and the such that had x86_64 hard-coded in the URLs that needed to be replaced with aarch64. Unless I was getting some Debian-based thing, then I needed to replace it with arm64.

The Birth of a Collection

So since multi-architecture automation is a thing to stay here for me and will only be expanding, I needed a way to easily figure out the relevant architecture information to use in my workflows.

To that end, I created a new Ansible Collection. A buddy of mine, Tosin Akinosho, built an Ansible Collection and I thought that was pretty cool and figured it’d be a great way to port around some common architecture detection tasks. It can detect a combination of:

  • x86 32-bit
  • x86 64-bit
  • ARM 64-bit

For Debian and RHEL type of notations. I don’t have an AIX or Solaris system to test against sooo…yeah…

Introducting kenmoini.kemo

Clever, I know.

My first, and a super simple general catch-all Ansible Collection, but something that lets one perform architecture detection and setting of some useful facts/variables in just 3 lines of YAML!

You can find the collection at

Using the Collection

To use the collection and start detecting architectures yourself, you need to install the Collection, and then import the Role into your Playbook.

Installing the Collection

You can either install the Ansible Collection with the command-line:

# Install the Collection if you're an Ansible CLI user
ansible-galaxy collection install kenmoini.kemo

Alternatively, use the a collections/requirements.yml file in your repo if you’re wanting to install multiple Collections/Roles, and/or use it in Ansible Tower/Controller:

# your collections/requirements.yml file
  - name: kenmoini.kemo
  #- name: other.collections

Using the Collection

Simply import the architecture_helper Role into you Playbook, and you’ll find 3 new facts/variables set, detected_architecture, rpm_architecture, and deb_architecture:

- name: Example for kenmoini.kemo.architecture_helper
  hosts: some_host_pattern

    - name: Import Role
        name: kenmoini.kemo.architecture_helper

    - name: Debug set variables
          - "detected_architecture: {{ detected_architecture }}"
          - "deb_architecture: {{ deb_architecture }}"
          - "rpm_architecture: {{ rpm_architecture }}"

Now when you download things such as OpenShift binaries, Ubuntu ISOs, etc, you can have a few easy to use variables that can adapt across Debian and RHEL based systems, on 32 and 64 bit architectures!