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comp.lang.perl.* FAQ 1/5 - Availability

Archive-name: perl-faq/part1
Version: $Id: part1,v 2.9 1995/05/15 15:44:17 spp Exp spp $
Posting-Frequency: bi-weekly
Last Edited: Thu Jan 11 00:53:46 1996 by spp (Stephen P Potter) on

This posting contains answers to general information and availability
questions.  The following questions are answered in this posting: 

1.1) What is Perl?
    Perl is a compiled scripting language written by Larry Wall*.

    Here's the beginning of the description from the perl(1) man page:

	Perl is an interpreted language optimized for scanning arbi-
	trary  text  files,  extracting  information from those text
	files, and printing reports based on that information.  It's
	also  a good language for many system management tasks.  The
	language is intended to be practical  (easy  to  use,  effi-
	cient,  complete)  rather  than  beautiful  (tiny,  elegant,
	minimal).  It combines (in  the  author's  opinion,  anyway)
	some  of the best features of C, sed, awk, and sh, so people
	familiar with those languages should have little  difficulty
	with  it.  (Language historians will also note some vestiges
	of csh, Pascal,  and  even  BASIC-PLUS.)  Expression  syntax
	corresponds  quite  closely  to C expression syntax.  Unlike
        most Unix utilities, perl does  not  arbitrarily  limit  the
	size  of your data--if you've got the memory, perl can slurp
        in your whole file as a  single  string.   Recursion  is  of
	unlimited  depth.   And  the hash tables used by associative
        arrays grow as necessary to  prevent  degraded  performance.
	Perl  uses sophisticated pattern matching techniques to scan
        large amounts of data very quickly.  Although optimized  for
	scanning  text, perl can also deal with binary data, and can
        make dbm files look like associative arrays  (where  dbm  is
	available).   Setuid  perl scripts are safer than C programs
        through a dataflow tracing  mechanism  which  prevents  many
	stupid  security  holes.   If  you have a problem that would
        ordinarily use sed or awk or sh, but it exceeds their  capa-
	bilities  or must run a little faster, and you don't want to
        write the silly thing in C, then perl may be for you.  There
	are  also  translators to turn your sed and awk scripts into
        perl scripts.  OK, enough hype.

1.2) What are perl4 and perl5, are there any differences?

    Perl4 and perl5 are different versions of the language.  Perl4 was the
    previous release, and perl5 is "Perl: The Next Generation."
    Perl5 is, essentially, a complete rewrite of the perl source code
    from the ground up.  It has been modularized, object oriented, 
    tweaked, trimmed, and optimized until it almost doesn't look like
    the old code.  However, the interface is mostly the same, and
    compatibility with previous releases is very high.

1.3) What features does perl5 provide over perl4?

    If you get the newest source (from any of the main FTP sites), you will
    find a directory full of man pages (possibly to be installed as section
    1p and 3pm) that discuss the differences, new features, old
    incompatibilies and much more.  Here, however, are some highlights as
    to the new features and old incompatibilities.

    * Enhanced Usability:  Perl code can now be written in a much more
	legible style.  Regular expressions have been enhanced to allow
	minimal matches, conditionals, and much more.  Cryptic variable
	names (although still supported) have been aliased to new
    	nmemonics, using the "English" module, allowing old scripts to run
    	and new scripts to be readable.  Error messages and optional
    	warnings are more informative and will catch many common mistakes.
    	See the perldiag(1) man page, which contains pithy prose from Larry
    	Wall* on each and every possible muttering perl might spout at you.
    * Simplified Grammar:  The new yacc grammar is one half the size of
	the old one.  Many of the arbitrary grammar rules have been
	regularized.  The number of reserved words has been cut by 2/3.
    * Lexical Scoping:  Perl variables may now be declared within a
	lexical scope, similar to C's "auto" variables.  This is a
	great improvement on efficiency and contributes to better
	privacy.  See the my() entry in perlfunc(1).
    * Arbitrarily nested data structures:  Full fledged multidimensional
	arrays.  Any scalar value, including an array element, may now
	contain a reference to any other variable or subroutine.
	Easily created anonymous variables and subroutines.  See
    * Modularity and Reusability:  The Perl library is now defined in
	terms of modules which can be easily shared among various
	packages.  Packages can import any or all of a module's
	published interface.  See perlmod(1), perlsub(1), and
    * Object-oriented programming:  A package can function as a class.
	Dynamic multiple inheritance and virtual methods are supported
	in a straight-forward manner with little new syntax.  Filehandles
	are now treated as objects.  See perlobj(1), perlmod(1), and
    * Embeddable and Extensible:  Perl can be easily embedded in C/C++
	applications, and can either call or be called by your routines
    	through a documented interface.  The XS preprocessor is provided to
    	make it easy to glue your C/C++ routines into Perl.  Dynamic
    	loading of modules is supported.  See perlapi(1), perlcall(1), and
    * POSIX compliant:  A major new module is the POSIX module, which
	provides access to all available POSIX routines and definitions.
    	Seee POSIX(3pm).
    * Package constructors and destructors:  The new BEGIN and END blocks
    	provide means to capture control as a package is being compiled and
    	after the program exits.  As a degenerate case, they work just like
    	awk's BEGIN and END when you use the -p or -n switches.  See
    * Multiple simultaneous DBM implementations:  A perl program now has
    	access to DBM, NDBM, SDBM, GDBM and Berkeley DB files in the same
    	script.  The dbmopen interface has been generalized to allow any
    	variable to be tied to an object class which defines its access
    	methods.  tie/untie now preferable to dbmopen/dbmclose.  See the
    	tie() entry in perlfunc(1) and the DB_File(3pm) man pages.
    * Subroutine definitions may now be autoloaded:  The AUTOLOAD mechanism
    	allows any arbitrary semantics to undefined subroutine calls.  See
    	the section on Autoloading in the perlsub(1) manpage.
    * Regular Expression Enhancements:  Qualifiers may be followed by a "?"
	to signify that they should be non-greedy.  A "?" directly after
	an opening paren indicates non backreference grouping and the next
	character determines the purpose of the match (?:a|b|c) will match
	any of a b or c without producing a backreference, (?=stuff) does
	a non-eating look ahead to assure that the next thing is stuff, 
	(?!nonsense) looks ahead to assure that the next thing must not
	be "nonsense".  Embedded whitespace and comments for readability.  
	A consistent extensibility mechanism has been added that is 
	upwardly compatible with all old regexps.  Variables may now be 
	interpolated literally into a pattern with \Q or the quotemeta 
	function, which works like \U but backwhacks non-alphanumerics.  
	New m and s "flags" for pattern matching force multi- or 
	single-line matching.  The "s" makes "." match "\n".  \A and
	\Z anchor matches to the beginning and end of a string and ignore
	multiline semantics.  \G matches where the previous m//g or s///g
	left off.
    * The -w (warnings) switch is much more informative.
    * References and Objects (see t/op/ref.t) for examples.
    * => is a synonym for comma and helps group paired arguments, such
	as initializers for associative arrays and named arguments to
    * All functions, even predeclared subroutines, are treated as list
    	operators or unary operators.  Parens are optional. 
    * Flattened interpreter:  Compare perl4's eval.c with perl5's pp.c.
	Compare perl4's 900 line interpreter look with perl5's one line.
    * eval is now treated like a subroutine call, meaning (among other
	things) you can return from it.
    * format value lists may be spread over multiple lines with a do {}
    * flags on the #! line are interpreted even if the script wasn't
	invoked directly.
    * ?: is now an lvalue.
    * list context now propogates to the right side of && and ||, and
	as the 2nd and 3rd arguments of ?:
    * preferred package delimiter now :: rather than '.
    * new "and" and "or" operators, like && and || but with a lower
	precedence than comma, so they work better with list operators.
    * New functions abs(), chr(), uc(), ucfirst(), lc(), and lcfirst()
    * require(number) checks to see that the version is at least that
    * qw//, which is equivalent to split(' ', q//)
    * assignment of a reference to a glob replaces the single element
	of the glob corresponding to the reference type:
	    *foo = \$bar, * foo = \&bletch;
    * filehandle methods are supported:
	output_autoflush STDOUT 1;
    * Autoload stubs can now call the replacement subroutine with
	goto &realsub.
    * Subroutines can be defined lazily in any package by declaring
	an AUTOLOAD routine, which will be called if a non-existent
	subroutine is called in that package.
    * "use" and "no" subsume many features.  "use Module LIST" is
	short for "BEGIN { require Module; import Module LIST }"
	"no" is identical, except that it calls "unimport" instead.
	"use integer" and variations of "use strict [vars,refs,subs]"
	were implemented through new modules.

(Thanks to Tom Christiansen* for this section)

1.4) Where can I get docs on perl5?
    The complete perl documentation is available with the Perl
    distribution, or can be accessed from the following sites.
    Note that the PerlDoc ps file is 240 pages long!! 
    Marked Up (HTML) format:	    	    	(Europe)

    PostScript:  (Europe)  (Europe)  (Oz)
		unable to access as of 7/15/95

    TeXinfo (Emacs) Format:

1.5) Will perl5 break my perl4 scripts?
    In general, no.  However, certain bad old practices have become highly
    frowned upon.  The following are the most important of the known
    incompatibilities between perl4 and perl5.  See perltrap(1) for more 
    * "@" ***ALWAYS*** interpolates in double quoted strings.  Non-array
    "@"s must be escaped: 
    	Mail("") needs to be
    The compiler catches this.
    * "open FILE || die" needs to be "open(FILE) || die".  The compiler
      forgives you for this, but won't stop complaining until you fix it.
    * Barewords are no longer (necessarily) strings: they will actually
      call the function (if it existed when that code was compiled)
      instead of returning a string of that value.  Check your 
      signal handlers.  The 'use strict subs' pragma (see strict(3pm))
      will help you with this.
    * "shift @x + 20" needs to be "shift(@x) + 20" because of precedence,
      and likewise "$y = scalar keys %foo + 30" needs to be instead 
      "$y = scalar keys(%foo) + 30".
    * The internal symbol table is called %{PACKAGE::} for any given 
      package.  It used to be %{_PACKAGE}.
    * You may no longer (attempt to) write to read-only variables, like $1,
      or assign to a substr() past the end of a string.
    * Various deprecated practices elicit warning messages.
    * The package delimiter has been changed from ' to ::.  Use of ' is
      deprecated, but still works.  Use of :: may break scripts if you
      aren't careful (especially if you are working with colon delimited
      data files, like /etc/passwd)

1.6) When will Perl stabilize?
When asked at what point the Perl code would be frozen, Larry answered:
    Part of the redesign of Perl is to *allow* us to more or less freeze
    the language itself.  It won't totally freeze, of course, but I think
    the rate of change of the core of the language is asymptotically
    approaching 0.  In fact, as time goes on, now that we have an official
    extension mechanism, some of the things that are currently in the core
    of the language may move out (transparently) as extensions.  This has
    already happened to dbmopen().
    I've also been continuously reminding myself of what Henry Spencer
    calls "second system syndrome", in which everything under the sun gets
    added, resulting in a colossal kludge, like OS 360.  You'll find that
    the new features in Perl 5 are all pretty minimalistic.  The
    object-oriented features in particular added only one new piece of
    syntax, a C++-style method call.
    : The whole idea behind
    : Perl is to be a fast text-processing, system-maintenance, zero-startup
    : time language. If it gets to be so large and complicated that it isn't
    : fast-running and easy to use, it won't be to anyone's benefit.
    My motto from the start has been, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
    I've been trying very hard not to remove those features from Perl that
    make it what it is.  At the same time, a lot of streamlining has gone
    into the syntax.  The new yacc file is about half the size of the old
    one, and the number of official reserved words has been cut by 2/3.
    All built-in functions have been unified (dualified?) as either list
    operators or unary operators.
    : I really like a lot of the features in Perl, but in order for Perl to
    : be useful on a long term basis, those features have to stay put. I
    : bought the Camel book less than a year ago and it sounds like within
    : another year it will be obsolete.
    The parts of Perl that the Camel book covers have not changed all that
    much.  Most old scripts still run.  Many scripts from Perl version 1.0
    still run.  We'll certainly be revising the Camel, but the new man
    pages are split up such that it's pretty easy to ferret out the new
    info when you want it.
    We did break a few misfeatures in going to Perl 5.  It seemed like the
    first and last chance to do so.  There's a list of the
    incompatibilities in the documentation. 
    : Not only is it a lot of work to recompile Perl
    : on 20+ machines periodically, but it's hard to write scripts that are 
    : useful in the long term if the guts of the language keep changing.
    : (And if I keep having to buy new books. I keep hearing about new
    : features of Perl 5 that aren't documented in any of the perl 5
    : documentation that *I* can find.)
    I think you'll find a lot of folks who think that 4.036 has been a
    pretty stable platform.
    Perl 5 is a special case.  I've been working on it for years.  (This is
    part of the reason 4.036 has been so stable!)  There are many changes,
    most of them for the better, I hope.  I don't expect the transition to
    be without pain.  But that's why I stuck numbered versions out in your
    bin directory, so that you can upgrade piecemeal if you like.  And
    that's why I made the -w switch warn about many of the incompatibilities.
    And overriding all that, I've tried to keep it so that you don't have
    to know much about the new stuff to use the old stuff.  You can upgrade
    your *knowledge* piecemeal too.
    The extension mechanism is designed to take over most of the
    evolutionary role from now on.  And it's set up so that, if you don't
    have a particular extension, you know it right up at the front. 
    : Are there any plans to write a Perl compiler? While interpreted Perl
    : is great for many applications, it would also be cool to be able to
    : precompile many scripts. (Yes, I know you can undump things, but
    : undump isn't provided with Perl and I haven't found a copy.) The
    : creation of a perl library and dynamically-loadable modules seems
    : like a step in that direction.  
    Yes, part of the design of Perl 5 was to make it *possible* to write a 
    compiler for it.  It could even be done as an extension module, I
    suppose.  Anyone looking for a master's thesis topic?
    In summary, almost every concern that you might think of has already
    been (at least) thought about.  In a perfect world, every concern
    could be addressed perfectly.  But in this world we just have to slog

1.7) What's the difference between "perl" and "Perl"?

    32!  [ ord('p') - ord('P') ]  (Shouldn't that be 42, the Answer to the
		Great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?  ;) 

    Larry now uses "Perl" to signify the language proper and "perl" the
    implementation of it, i.e. the current interpreter.  Hence Tom's
    quip that "Nothing but perl can parse Perl."

    On the other hand, the aesthetic value of casewise parallelism in
    "awk", "sed", and "perl" as much require the lower-case version as "C",
    "Pascal", and "Perl" require the upper-case version.  It's also easier
    to type "Perl" in typeset print than to be constantly switching in
    Courier. :-) 
    In other words, it doesn't matter much, especially if all you're doing
    is hearing someone talk about the language; case is hard to distinguish

1.8) Is it a perl program or a perl script?

    It depends on whether you are talking about the perl binary or
    something that you wrote using perl.  And, actually, even this isn't
    necessarily true.

    "Standard" UNIX terminology is (roughly) this:  programs are compiled
    into machine code once and run multiple times, scripts are translated
    (by a program) each time they are used.  However, some say that a
    program is anything written which is executed on a computer system.
    Larry considers it a program if it is set in stone and you can't change
    it, whereas if you can go in and hack at it, it's a script.  Of course,
    if you have the source code, that makes just about anything a
    script.  ;)

    In general, it probably doesn't really matter.  The terms are used
    interchangeably.  If you particularly like one or the other, use it.  If
    you want to call yourself a perl programmer, call them programs.  If
    you want to call yourself a perl scripter, call them scripts.  Randal*
    and I (at least) will call them hacks.  (See question 2.10 ;)

    Larry says that a script is what you give an actor, but a program is
    what you give an audience.

1.9) Is perl difficult to learn?
    Not at all.  Many people find Perl extremely easy to learn.  There are
    at least three main reasons for this.

    The first reason is that most of Perl has been derived from standard
    utilities, tools, and languages that you are (probably) already
    familiar with.  If you have any knowledge of the C programming language
    and standard C library, the Unix Shell, sed and awk, Perl should be
    simple and fun for you to learn.

    The second reason that Perl is easy to learn is that you only have to
    know a very small subset of Perl to be able to get useful results.  In
    fact, once you can master

	 print "Hello, world\n";

    you can start writing Perl scripts.  In fact, you will probably never
    have to (or be able to) know everything about Perl.  As you feel the
    need or desire to use more sophisticated features (such as C structures
    or networking), you can learn these as you go.  The learning curve for
    Perl is not a steep one, especially if you have the headstart of having 
    a background in UNIX.  Rather, its learning curve is gentle and
    gradual, but it *is* admittedly rather long. 

    The third reason is that you can get immediate results from your
    scripts.  Unlike a normal compiled language (like C or Pascal, for
    example), you don't have to continually recompile your program every
    time you change one little thing.  Perl allows you to experiment and
    test/debug quickly and easily.  This ease of experimentation flattens
    the learning curve even more.

    If you don't know C or UNIX at all, it'll be a steeper learning curve,
    but what you then learn from Perl will carry over into other areas,
    like using the C library, UNIX system calls, regular expressions, and 
    associative arrays, just to name a few.  To know Perl is to know UNIX,
    and vice versa. 

1.10) Should I program everything in Perl?

    Most definitely.  In fact, you should delete the binaries for sed, awk,
    cc, gcc, grep, rm, ls, cat... well, just delete your /bin directory.

    But seriously, of course you shouldn't.  As with any job, you should
    use the appropriate tool for the task at hand.  Just because a hammer 
    will put screws into a piece of board, you probably don't want to do

    While it's true that the answer to the question "Can I do (some
    arbitrary task) in Perl?" is almost always "yes", that doesn't mean
    this is necessarily a good thing to do.  For many people, Perl serves
    as a great replacement for shell programming.  For a few people, it
    also serves as a replacement for most of what they'd do in C.  But for
    some things, Perl just isn't the optimal choice.

1.11) How does Perl compare with other scripting languages, like Tcl, Python
     or REXX?

    REXX is an interpreted programming language first seen on IBM systems.
    Python is an interpreted programming language by Guido van Rossum*.
    TCL is John Ousterhout*'s embeddable command language, designed just
    for embedded command extensions, but lately used for larger
    applications.  TCL's most intriguing feature for many people is the
    tcl/tk toolset that allows for interpreted X-based tools.  Others use
    it for its "expect" extension.

    To avoid any flamage, if you really want to know the answer to this
    question, probably the best thing to do is try to write equivalent
    code to do a set of tasks.  All three have their own newsgroups in
    which you can learn about (but hopefully not argue about) these

    To find out more about these or other languages, you might also check
    out David Muir Sharnoff*'s posting "Catalog of Compilers, Interpreters,
    and Other Language Tools" which he posts to comp.lang.misc,
    comp.sources.d, comp.archives.admin, and news.answers newsgroups.  It's
    a comprehensive treatment of many different languages.  (Caveat lector:
    he considers Perl's syntax "unappealing".)

1.12) How can I get Perl over the Internet?

    Perl is available from any comp.sources.misc archive.  You can use an
    archie server (see the alt.sources FAQ in news.answers) to find these
    if you want.

      Version 4:
	Volume	Issues	Patchlevel and Notes
	------	------	------------------------------------------------
	  18    19-54	Patchlevel 3, Initial posting.
	  20	56-62	Patches 4-10	

      Version 5:
    	Volume	Issues	Patchlevel and Notes
    	------	------	-----------------------------------------------
    	  45	64-128	Initial Posting, patchlevel 0.

    Since 1993, a number of archives have sprung up specifically for Perl
    and Perl related items.  Larry maintains the official distribution
    site (for both perl4.036 and perl5) at netlabs.  Probably the largest
    archive is at the University of Florida.  In order of probability these
    sites will have the sources.

	Site	Directory and notes	            	    IP	    	    
	--------------------------------------------- 	    -------	    
    North America:	    
		not current as of 7/15/95    
		not current as of 7/15/95  
		not current as of 7/15/95	    


    South America (mirror of	    

    If there is a site in Asia or Japan, please tell us about it.  Thanks! 

    You can also retrieve perl via non-ftp methods:

1.13) How can I get Perl via Email?

    The following is a list of known ftpmail sites.  Please attempt to use
    the site closest to you with the ftp archive closest to it.  Many of
    these sites already have perl on them.  For information on how to use
    one of these sites, send email containing the word "help" to the

	United States:
	    New Jersey:
	    North Carolina:



    Henk P Penning* suggests that if you are in Europe you should try the
    following (if you are in Germany or the UK, you should probably use one
    of the servers listed above): 

        Email: Send a message to '' containing:
	 path your_email_address
	 send help
	 send PERL/perl5.0/INDEX
	The path-line may be omitted if your message contains a normal
	From:-line.  You will receive a help-file and an index of the
	directory that contains the Perl stuff.

    If all else fails, mail to Larry usually suffices.

1.14) How can I get Perl via UUCP?

    There currently is no way of getting Perl via UUCP.  If anyone knows of
    a way, please contact me.  The OSU site has discontinued the service.

1.15) Are there other ways of getting perl?

    Another possibility is to use UUNET, although they charge you for it.
    You have been duly warned.  Here's the advertisement: 

	       Anonymous Access to UUNET's Source Archives


	UUNET now provides access to its extensive collection of UNIX
    related sources to non- subscribers.  By  calling  1-900-468-7727
    and  using the login "uucp" with no password, anyone may uucp any
    of UUNET's on line source collection.  Callers will be charged 40
    cents  per  minute.   The charges will appear on their next tele-
    phone bill.

	 The file uunet!/info/help contains instructions.   The  file
    uunet!/index//ls-lR.Z  contains  a  complete  list  of  the files 
    available  and is  updated daily.   Files ending  in Z need to be 
    uncompressed before being used.  The file uunet!~/compress.tar is
    a tar archive containing the C sources for the uncompress program. 

	 This service provides a  cost  effective  way  of  obtaining
    current  releases  of sources without having to maintain accounts
    with UUNET or some other service.  All modems  connected  to  the
    900  number  are  Telebit T2500 modems.  These modems support all
    standard modem speeds including PEP, V.32 (9600), V.22bis (2400),
    Bell  212a  (1200), and Bell 103 (300).  Using PEP or V.32, a 1.5
    megabyte file such as the GNU C compiler would cost $10  in  con-
    nect  charges.   The  entire  55  megabyte X Window system V11 R4
    would cost only $370 in connect time.  These costs are less  than
    the  official  tape  distribution fees and they are available now
    via modem.

		      UUNET Communications Services
		   3110 Fairview Park Drive, Suite 570
			 Falls Church, VA 22042
			 +1 703 876 5050 (voice)
			  +1 703 876 5059 (fax)

1.16) Has perl been ported to machine FOO?

    Perl runs on virtually all Unix machines simply by following the hints
    file and instructions in the Configure script.  This auto-configuration
    script allows Perl to compile on a wide variety of platforms by
    modifying the machine specific parts of the code.  For most Unix
    systems, or VMS systems for v5 perl, no porting is required.  Try to
    compile Perl on your machine.  If you have problems, examine the README
    file carefully.  If all else fails, send a message to comp.lang.perl
    and crosspost to comp.sys.[whatever], there's probably someone out
    there that has already solved your problem and will be able to help you

    Perl4.036 has been ported to many non-Unix systems, although currently
    there are only a few (beta) v5 ports.  All of the following are
    mirrored at  The following are
    the (known) official distribution points.  Please contact the porters 
    directly (when possible) in case of questions on these ports.

	* MS-DOS binaries and source are available at  []
	  There are currently half a dozen different ports for MS-DOS.
	  BigPerl4 (v4) is perl4.036 compiled with the Watcom C/C++^32
	  compiler (32-bit, flat-memory model C compiler) with the
	  following features:
	    * Up to 32MB of memory can be used.
	    * Supports virtual memory.
	    * Works under Windows 3.1 
	    * The perl debugger can be used.
	    * Contains Berkeley DB support.  GDBM is no longer supported.

	  Note that the latest version of BigPerl4 can also be found at
	  any SimTel mirror site ( does not
	  necessarily have the latest version), such as:

    	  A beta-test version of bigperl based on Perl 5.000 can be
    	  obtained from the following sites:

    	  This beta bigperl also contains ported versions of a2p and s2p.

	* Windows/NT binaries are available from, or at any of the major
    	  NT archives.  They are compiled for NT 3.5, but appears to work
    	  under Win95 also.  It is visible to the NT Registry.  Dean
    	  Troyer* is working on extending the visibility to SAM and the
    	  Event Log.  His current work-in-progress is available from

	* Macintosh binaries and source are available from []
	  Version 4.1.3 is perl4.036 compiled with the MPW C compiler
	    * Mac_Perl_413_src.sit.bin	    Sources
	    * Mac_Perl_413_tool.sit.bin	    MPW Tool
	    * Mac_Perl_413_appl.sit.bin	    Standalone Application
	  There is a mailing list for discussing Macintosh Perl.  Contact

	  Timothy Murphy* also ported a version of perl to the Macintosh
	  using Think C.  It has probably been abandoned in favour of the
	  MPW port, but is still available at []

    	  Matthias Ulrich Neeracher* is working on a perl5 port to the
    	  Macintosh.  A PowerPC version is available at

	* OS/2 sources are also available at  This appears to have
    	  been abandoned and added to the official distribution.  See the
    	  directory os2 in the perl5 sources.

	* VMS systems should be able to build directly from the standard

    	* Amiga sources are not available from, but can
    	  be found at any Aminet archive, notably:

1.17) How do I get Perl to compile on Solaris?

    The following directions are for perl, version 4.  Perl, version 5,
    should compile more easily.  If not, send mail to The Perl Porters
    Mailing List (

    John Lees* reports:

        I have built perl on Solaris 2.1, 2.2 beta, and 2.2 FCS. Take
	/usr/ucb out of your path and do not use any BSD/UCB libraries.
	Only -lsocket, -lnsl, and -lm are needed. You can use the hint for
	Solaris 2.0, but the one for 2.1 is wrong. Do not use vfork. Do not
	use -I/usr/ucbinclude.  The result works fine for me, but of couse
	does not support a couple of BSDism's.

    Casper H.S. Dik* reports

        You must remove all the references to /usr/ucblib AND
        /usr/ucbinclude.  And ignore the Solaris_2.1 hints. They are wrong.
        The undefining of vfork() probably has to do with the confusion it 
        gives to the compilers.  If you use cc, you mustn't compile
	util.c/tutil.c  with -O.  I only used the following libs: -lsocket 
	-lnsl -lm (there is a problem with -lmalloc)

    Michael D'Errico* reports:

        If you are using Solaris 2.x, the signal handling is broken.  If
	you set up a signal handler such as 'ripper' it will be forgotten
	after the first time the signal is caught.  To fix this, you need
	to recompile Perl.  Just add '#define signal(x,y) sigset((x),(y))'
	after the '#include <signal.h>' directive in each file that it
	occurs, then make it again. 

1.18) How do I get Perl to compile on a Next?

    According to Andreas Koenig*, under NeXTstep 3.2, both perl4.036 and
    perl5.000 compile with the supplied hints file. 

    However, Bill Eldridge* provides this message to help get perl4.036 on
    NeXTstep 3.0 to work: 

        To get perl to compile on NeXTs, you need to combine the ANSI
        and BSD headers:

        cd /usr/include
        mkdir ansibsd
        cd ansibsd
        ln -s ../ansi
        ln -s ../bsd

        Then, follow the configuration instructions for NeXTs, *replacing*
        all mention of -I/usr/include/ansi or -I/usr/include/bsd with

1.19) What extensions are available from Perl and where can I get them?
    Some of the more popular extensions include those for windowing,
    graphics, or data base work.  Most of the major sites contain an
    archive of the extensions, usually in the ext directory.  Since the
    list of available extensions changes so often, I have opted to list
    only the sites and directories, not the individual extensions, please
    check the closest archive for more information
    	(also linked at

1.20) What is dbperl and where can I get it?

    Many database-oriented extensions to Perl have been written.
    Basically, these use the usub mechanism (see the usub/ subdirectory) in
    the source distribution) to link in a database library, allowing
    embedded calls to Informix, Ingres, Interbase, Oracle and Sybase.

    Here are the authors of the various extensions:

    What            Target DB       Who
    --------        -----------     ----------------------------------------
    ?Infoperl       Informix        Kurt Andersen (
    Ingperl	    Ingres	    Tim Bunce ( and Ted Lemon
    Interperl       Interbase       Buzz Moschetti (
    Isqlperl	    Informix	    William Hails,
    Oraperl         Oracle          Kevin Stock (
    Pgperl	    Postgres	    Igor Metz (
    *Sqlperl        Ingres          Ted Lemon (
    Sybperl         Sybase          Michael Peppler (
    Uniperl	    Unify 5.0	    Rick Wargo (

    ? Does this one still exist?
    * Sqlperl appears to have been subsumed by Ingperl

    Buzz Moschetti* has organized a project to create a higher level
    interface to allow you to write your queries in a database-independent
    fashion.  If this type of project interests you, send mail to
    <> and asked to be placed on the 
    "perldb-interest" mailing lists.

    Here's a bit of advertising from Buzz:

	Perl is an interpreted language with powerful string, scalar, and
	array processing features developed by Larry Wall that "nicely
	bridges the functionality gap between sh(1) and C."  Since
	relational DB operations are typically textually oriented, perl is
	particularly well-suited to manage the data flows.  The C source
	code, which is available free of charge and runs on many platforms,
	contains a user-defined function entry point that permits a
	developer to extend the basic function set of the language.  The
	DBperl Group seeks to exploit this capability by creating a
	standardized set of perl function extensions (e.g. db_fetch(),
	db_attach()) based on the SQL model for manipulating a relational
    	DB, thus providing a portable perl interface to a variety of
    	popular RDMS engines including Sybase, Oracle, Ingres, Informix,
    	and Interbase.  In theory, any DB engine that implements a dynamic
    	SQL interpreter in its HLI can be bolted onto the perl front end
    	with predicatable results, although at this time backends exist
    	only for the aforementioned five DB engines. 

    The official archive for DBperl extensions is
    /pub/perl/db.  It's the home of the evolving DBperl API Specification.
    Here's an extract from the updated README there:

    DBI/    	The home of the DBI archive. To join the DBI mailing list
                send your request to

    DBD/        Database Drivers for the DBI ...
    Oracle/      By Tim Bunce (not yet ready!) 
    Ingres/      By Tim Bunce (not yet started!) 
    mod/           Other Perl 5 Modules and Extensions ...

    Sybperl/    By Michael Peppler,

    perl4/         Perl 4 extensions (using the usub C interface)
       oraperl/   ORACLE 6 & 7  By Kevin Stock, 
       sybperl/   SYBASE 4      By Michael Peppler,
       ingperl/   INGRES        By Tim Bunce and Ted Lemon
       isqlperl/  INFORMIX      By William Hails,
       interperl/ INTERBASE     By Buzz Moschetti,
       oraperl/   ORACLE 6 & 7  By Kevin Stock (sadly no longer on the net)
       sybperl/   SYBASE 4      By Michael Peppler,
       ingperl/   INGRES        By Tim Bunce and Ted Lemon
       isqlperl/  INFORMIX      By William Hails,
       interperl/ INTERBASE     By Buzz Moschetti,
       uniperl/   UNIFY 5.0     By Rick Wargo,
       pgperl/    POSTGRES      By Igor Metz,
       btreeperl/ NDBM perl extensions.   By John Conover,
       ctreeperl/ C-Tree perl extensions. By John Conover,
       duaperl/   X.500 Directory User Agent. By Eric Douglas.
    scripts/       Perl and shell scripts
       rdb/       RDB is a perl RDBMS for ASCII files. By Walt Hobbs,
       shql/      SHQL is an interactive SQL database engine.  Written as a
    	    	    shell script, SHQL interprets SQL commands and
    	    	    manipulates flat files based on those commands. By
    	    	    Bruce Momjian, root@candle.uucp 
       xbase/     Perl scripts for accessing xBase style files (dBase III) 
   refinfo/       Reference information
       sqlsyntax/ Yacc and lex syntax and C source code for SQL1 and SQL2
            and a draft SQL3 syntax from Jeff Fried <>+      
       formats/   Details of file formats such as Lotus 1-2-3 .WK1
    There are also a number of non SQL database interfaces for perl
    available from  These include:

    Directory	Target System	Authors and notes
    ---------	-------------	-------------------------------------------
    btreeperl	NDBM extension	John Conover (
    ctreeperl	CTree extension John Conover (
    duaperl	X.500 DUA	Eric Douglas
    rdb		RDBMS		Walt Hobbs (
    shql	SQL Engine	Bruce Momjian (root@candle.uucp)

1.21) Which DBM should I use?
    As shipped, Perl (version 5) comes with interfaces for several DBM
    packages (SDBM, old DBM, NDBM, GDBM, Berkeley DBM) that are not supplied  
    but either come with your system are readily accessible via FTP.  SDBM
    is guaranteed to be there.  For a comparison, see AnyDBM_File(3pm)
    and DB_File(3pm).
1.22) Is there an SNMP aware Perl?

    snmperl was written by Guy Streeter (, and was
    posted in late February 1993 to comp.protocols.snmp.  It can be found
    archived at one of two (known) places:


	Location: /pub/net/snmp
	       FILE -rw-rw-r--       3407  Aug 11 1992  snmperl.README
	       FILE -rw-r--r--      17678  Aug 11 1992  snmperl.tar.Z

	Location: /pub/perl/scripts/snmp

    Here is the gist of the README:

    This directory contains the source code to add callable C subroutines
    to perl.  The subroutines implement the SNMP functions "get",
    "getnext", and "set".  They use the freely-distributable SNMP package
    (version 1.1b) from CMU.

      There are four subroutines defined in the callable interface:
    snmp_get, snmp_next, snmp_set, and snmp_error.

      snmp_get and snmp_next implement the GET and GETNEXT operations,
    respectively.  The first two calling arguments are the hostname and
    Community string.  The IP address of the host, as a dotted-quad ASCII
    string, may be used as the hostname.  The rest of the calling
    arguments are a list of variables.  See the CMU package documentation
    for how variables may be specified.
      snmp_set also takes hostname and Community string as arguments.  The
    remaining arguments are a list of triples consisting of variable name,
    variable type, and value.  The variable type is a string, such as
    "INTEGER" or "IpAddress".
      snmp_get, snmp_next, and snmp_set return a list containing
    alternating variables and values.  snmp_get and snmp_next will simply
    omit non-existent variables on return.  snmp_set will fail completely
    if one of the specified variables does not exist (or is read-only).
      snmp_error will return a text string containing some error
    information about the most recent snmp_get|next|set call, if it had an

      I didn't find all the places where the CMU library writes to stderr
    or calls exit() directly.
      The changes I made to mib.c involve the formatting of variable values
    for return to the caller.  I took out the descriptive prefix so the
    string contains only the value.
      Enumerated types are returned as a string containing the symbolic
    representation followed in parentheses by the numeric.

      perl and the CMU SNMP package have their own statements.  Read them.
    The work I've done is free and clear.  Just don't say you wrote it if
    you didn't, and don't say I wrote it if you change it.

    Guy Streeter
    April 1, 1992 (not a joke!)

1.23) Is there an ISO or ANSI certified version of Perl?

    No.  Larry thinks it likely that he'll be certified before perl is.

Stephen P Potter        Pencom Systems Administration              Beaching It	Pager: 1-800-759-8888, 547-9561     Work: 703-860-2222
  Cthulhu for President in '96: When You're Tired of the Lesser of Two Evils
Stephen P Potter        Pencom Systems Administration              Beaching It	Pager: 1-800-759-8888, 547-9561     Work: 703-860-2222
"I don't care whether people actually like Perl, just so long as they *think*
	they like it...  ;-)"	-Larry Wall

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