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With command line patterns, you can specify patterns like "all,!ntpservers" but I can't figure out how to specify this in a playbook. I'm regularly running into cases where I have to install a client on all machines except the server.

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You specify the hosts for a playbook on the line that begins with hosts:.

From the documentation:

The hosts line is a list of one or more groups or host patterns, separated by colons, as described in the Working with Patterns documentation.

For example:

---
- hosts: all,!ntpservers
  tasks:
    # ... your tasks here
  roles:
    # ... etc etc etc

These roles and tasks will be appled to all hosts except ntpservers.

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    I'll add more detail to the question. This method ignores the !ntpservers on my installation of ansible 2.5.3. – Robert Rapplean Jul 17 '18 at 17:14
  • @RobertRapplean Probably best if you post a new question. Changing the meaning of a question after it's been answered is a great way to confuse everyone. – Michael Hampton Jul 17 '18 at 17:16

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