Read an environment variable — Ansible lookup plugin env

How to automate the reading of HOME environmental variable and use it in your Ansible Playbook code with lookup plugin env.

Luca Berton


How to read an environment variable on Ansible Controller with Ansible?
I’m going to show you a live demo with some simple Ansible code.
I’m Luca Berton and welcome to today’s episode of Ansible Pilot.

Ansible read an environment variable

  • ansible.builtin.env
  • Read the value of environment variables

Let’s deep dive into the Ansible lookup plugin env.
Plugins are a way to expand the Ansible functionality. With lookup plugins specifically, you can load variables or templates with information from external sources.
The full name is `ansible.builtin.env`, it’s part of `ansible-core` and is included in all Ansible installations.
The purpose of the `env` lookup plugin is to read the value of environment variables.

Parameters and Return Value


  • _terms string — Environment variable

Return Values

  • _raw list — Values from the environment variables

The parameters of plugin env.

The only required parameter is the default “_terms”, with the name of the environment variable to read.

The normal usage is to assign the lookup plugin to a variable name but you could use it in your Ansible task directly.


Read an environment variable with Ansible Playbook.


- name: environment demo
hosts: all
- name: display HOME
msg: "{{ lookup('env', 'HOME') }}"


ansible-pilot $ printenv | grep HOME
ansible-pilot $…



Luca Berton

I help creative Automation DevOps, Cloud Engineer, System Administrator, and IT Professional to succeed with Ansible Technology to automate more things everyday