Random thoughts about IT

How to install R packages with Ansible

with 5 comments

Here is a short snipet of Ansible playbook that installs R and any required packages to any nodes of the cluster:

- name: Making sure R is installed (debian/ubuntu apt)
apt: pkg=r-base state=installed

- name: adding a few R packages
command: /usr/bin/Rscript --slave --no-save --no-restore-history -e "if (! ('{{item}}' %in% installed.packages()[,'Package'])) install.packages(pkgs={{item}}, repos=c(''))"
- rjson
- rPython
- plyr
- psych
- reshape2

You should replace the repos with one chosen from the list of Cran mirrors.

Note that the command above installs each package only if it is not already present, but messes up the “changed” status of Ansible’s PLAY RECAP by incorrectly reporting a change per R package at every run. To fix this, have a look at the improvement written by Adam Johnson here:


Written by Svend

February 25, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

5 Responses

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  1. Thanks, this is awesome !


    April 10, 2014 at 7:12 pm

  2. Thanks for this info, it helped me! I extended it a bit to give a good return status that isn’t always “CHANGED” – see my blog post at for code 🙂

    Adam Chainz

    July 19, 2014 at 7:11 pm

  3. Thanks! I used it to make a second task to install Bioconductor packages:

    – name: bioconductor packages
    command: >
    Rscript –slave –no-save –no-restore-history -e “source(‘’); if (! (‘{{ item }}’ %in% installed.packages()[,’Package’])) { biocLite(‘{{ item }}’); print(‘Added’); } else { print(‘Already installed’); }”
    register: b_result
    failed_when: “b_result.rc != 0 or ‘had non-zero exit status’ in b_result.stderr”
    changed_when: “‘Added’ in b_result.stdout”
    – DESeq2
    – edgeR

    Jeffrey David Johnson

    September 30, 2014 at 12:19 am

  4. You can use repos=’’ since this provides local redirects. Nice work!

    Martin Tapp (@doctapp)

    January 7, 2015 at 7:15 pm

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