Quick Start

If you would rather not be bothered with the boring, gritty details, the following quick steps will get you up and going with a Cinch installation, after which you can jump down to the section on how to run Cinch, and skip the installation paragraphs that immediately follow this one.

Fedora 25+

Execute the following commands

sudo dnf install -y libvirt-devel python-virtualenv libyaml-devel openssl-devel libffi-devel gcc redhat-rpm-config

virtualenv cinch && source cinch/bin/activate

pip install cinch


See the sample Ansible playbook for steps to install Cinch into a virtualenv in RHEL/CentOS, as there are some additional steps required in these systems. Running that playbook as-is on your local system will result in a virtualenv living at /var/lib/jenkins/opt/cinch that will contain the latest version of Cinch.


apt-get install -y libvirt-dev python-virtualenv libyaml-dev openssl libffi-dev gcc python-dev libssl-dev

virtualenv cinch && source cinch/bin/activate

On older versions of Ubuntu (like 14.04) you should update pip (usually these older systems come with a version of pip such as 1.5.4 instead of version 9+)

pip install -U pip

On all systems, continue on with the installation of Cinch itself

pip install cinch


After Cinch is installed with the above quick start methods, you can jump down to the section about running Cinch to get a look at basic documentation on how the software should be used.

Getting Started

At its core, this software is nothing more than a collection of Ansible playbook scripts for configuring a system. Any knowledge that you have that is applicable to the broad spectrum of Ansible usage is applicable here. You can opt to install Ansible from your favorite package manager, or you can use the version that is specified in

Before concluding there is a bug in these playbooks, make sure that the version of Ansible you are using is the same as the version in the file and that you have ensured there are no alterations from that version. It is not intended or guaranteed that any changes from the stock version of Ansible that has been tested should work.


To setup your environment, you need to install Ansible. Since Ansible is primarily distributed as a Python package, it is suggested that you use pip to install Ansible on your system. You are welcome to try and use the version that is installed by your favorite package manager, but be sure that you are using a version at least as new as the version pinned in

It is recommended that you install Ansible from pip using a virtualenv, as is the best practices recommendations for most Python packages that are available from PyPI. In order to build and install Ansible, you will need to install the following system packages:


If you install cinch via pip, a supported version of Ansible will be brought in as a dependency.

  • gcc or appropriate system compiler
  • OpenSSL development package
  • libyaml development package
  • virtualenv package
  • libffi development package
  • libvirt development package

Use your system package manager to install these packages, if they are not already present.


You will need to install the development version of the libraries, as pip will attempt to build wrappers around some of those libraries during its install of Ansible and dependencies.

Here is an example of installing required system level packages for Fedora 25:


Once the system level packages are installed, you can install cinch using pip (virtualenv strongly recommended):


virtualenv cinch && source cinch/bin/activate

pip install cinch

RHEL7 and CentOS7

RHEL7 and derivatives offer older versions of Python packaging tools that are incompatible with some cinch dependencies. To work-around this issue, we have provided an Ansible playbook that will install a newer version of the necessary Python packaging tools to allow for installation on RHEL7. This playbook is intended for use on Jenkins masters and will install cinch and linchpin into a virtualenv at /var/lib/jenkins/opt/. For convenience, an optional Jenkins Job Builder template is provided and will create a Jenkins job that will run the aforementioned playbook on your Jenkins master.


With linchpin

If you’d like to automate the process of provisioning a host to later configure with cinch, the linchpin project can be used for this task. linchpin can dynamically generate an Ansible inventory file that cinch can consume for host configuration. In the following steps we will outline how to configure cinch-specific values within a linchpin workspace.


For linchpin topology and workspace examples, including various host environments, see the linchpin documentation.

Create a layout file by saving the following example template as /path/to/linchpin/workspace/layouts/mylayout.yml and edit to taste based on your cinch role requirements. In this example we configure a RHEL7 Jenkins slave:

      count: 1
        - rhel7
        - certificate_authority
        - repositories
        - jenkins_slave

Create an Ansible group_vars file by saving the following example template as /path/to/linchpin/workspace/inventories/group_vars/all and edit to taste based on your desired configuration parameters. In this example we configure a RHEL7 Jenkins slave to attach to a Jenkins master which requires authentication, along with some installed certificate authorities and repositories:

ansible_user: root
ansible_private_key_file: "{{ inventory_dir }}/../keystore/ssh-key"
ansible_connection: ssh
# Add URLs from which to download CA certificates for installation
# Base URL for repository mirror
jenkins_master_url: '' # URL to Jenkins master for the slave to connect to
jslave_name: 'cinch-slave'
jslave_label: 'cinch-slave'
# If your Jenkins master requires authentication to connect a slave,
# add credentials via the two variables below.  If anonymous users can
# connect slaves to the master, do not include the following two
# variables in this layout file.
jenkins_slave_username: 'automation-user'
jenkins_slave_password: 'jenkinsAPItoken'

Finally, If you’d like to automate this process in Jenkins, please see our example Jenkins Job Builder workflow template for guidance on putting it all together.


Execution of this software requires configuring an Ansible inventory that points at the jenkins_master and jenkins_slave hosts that you want configured. Use normal methods for setting group_vars and host_vars within the inventory or its associated folders that suits your own needs and preferences.

See also

While most default settings should be functional, there are lots of options configured in the various default/main.yml files within the various roles folders. Check in those files for more details on specific options that can be set and a description of what they each mean. These files are heavily commented, and serve as the best source of documentation for the way that cinch configures a system. If you feel the need to modify cinch playbooks directly, first check to see if the behavior you want is configurable via the provided Ansible variables.

See a few examples of such in either the inventory/ folder or inside of the various vagrant/ subfolders where known good working environments are configured for development use.

The path inventory/local is excluded from use by the project and can be leveraged for executing and storing your own local inventories, if the desire arises. There is even a shell script in bin/ that will execute ansible-playbook from the .venv/ virtualenv and point it to the inventory/local/hosts file to make executing against your own environment as easy as a single command.

The cinch project can be used as a standard Ansible project, by running ansible-playbook and calling site.yml for Jenkins master or slave configuration and teardown.yml for removing a Jenkins slave from a Jenkins master.

For convenience, we also provide CLI wrappers for these tasks. These wrappers simplify the task of finding and running the desired cinch playbooks for configuration or teardown, and also can optionally pass through any additional CLI arguments to the ‘ansible-playbook’ command that you may need.

The following commands are available:

  • cinch - runs the site.yml playbook to configure a Jenkins master or slave
  • teardown - runs the teardown.yml playbook to disconnect a Jenkins slave

Use the -h or --help arguments for the CLI wrappers to get further info.


The playbooks should support, minimally, CentOS and RHEL versions 7+. If you encounter difficulties in those environments, please file bugs. There should be no configuration necessary for a CentOS host, and a RHEL host requires only that you configure the base URL for your local RHEL repository collection. See documentation in the appropriate roles for details on that configuration.