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Introduction to Perl
Written by Philip L Yuson   

Who is this for?

    People who have no idea of what Perl is and where to get it.

What is Perl?

    Perl was originally developed with an emphasis on system management and text handling. However, as it was revised, other features were included such as regular expressions, signals and network sockets. If you have programming experience in any language, you can easily learn Perl.

Advantages of Perl

    1. One of the nicest thing about Perl is that you can add extensions to the core package. This allows you to access databases and user interface systems.

    2. It is available in many platforms. This means that if you coded a program on one platform, you will have a high probability that you can run it on another platform. This means savings in terms of time and also money.

    3. Since most cgi scripts use perl, you have a lot of resources available - both on the internet or in books.

    4. Last but not the least, you get a powerful programming language at little or no cost! If you have an internet connection already, you can download it directly from the perl website (http://www.perl.com/pub/language/info/so...

Where can I get Perl?

  • You can download the source and compile it. Warning!!! Do this only if you are familiar with the compile process or if you want an exercise in using your compiler. Since the compile process is beyond the scope of this document, we will cover this in future issues.

  • If you are using Linux, you can download Perl in one of the major distribution installation format. However, you may want to check if Perl is already installed on your system. To see if Perl is installed, start a console if you are in a Window manager. Type this:

              perl -v

      If Perl is installed, it will respond with a message similar to this:

          This is perl, version 5.003_07
          Copyright 1987-1996, Larry Wall
          + suidperl security patch
          Perl may be copied only under the terms of either the Artistic License or the
          GNU General Public License, which may be found in the Perl 5.0 source kit.

  • If you are using Windows 9x or higher (yes, Perl has a Windows port also), you have two places to download the Perl binaries:

Both of them come with their own package manager but IndigoPerl comes with a ready to use Apache web server.

  • For other distributions, you can check this out at

    Note that the entire Perl package can be as big as 8MB (or more). If you plan to download it, make sure you have the time to do it specially if you are using dial-up connection.

  • Another way to install Perl is to get a CD that contains the source or distribution format. If you installed your Linux system from a CD and Perl is not installed, the package is probably in the CD. You will have to follow the instructions on installing a package based on your Linux distribution.

  • If you are running Win9x, and if you have money to spare, you can purchase a CD that contains Perl plus other tools from ActiveState.

    If you want more introductory information about Perl, check these sites:

  • Beginning Perl: Ten Perl Myths

  • Perl FAQS

Copyright: © 2018 Philip Yuson