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comp.lang.perl.* FAQ 2/5 - Information Sources

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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Archive-name: perl-faq/part2
Version: $Id: part2,v 2.9 1995/05/15 15:44:29 spp Exp spp $
Posting-Frequency: bi-weekly
Last Edited: Thu Jan 11 00:54:41 1996 by spp (Stephen P Potter) on

This posting contains answers to general information questions, mostly of 
about information sources.

2.1) Is there a USENET group for Perl?

    Yes there is: comp.lang.perl.misc.  This group, which currently can get
    up to 150 messages per day, contains all kinds of discussions about
    Perl; everything from bug reports to new features to the history to
    humour and trivia.  This is the best source of information about
    anything Perl related, especially what's new with Perl5.  Because of
    its vast array of topics, it functions as both a comp.lang.* style
    newsgroup (providing technical information) and also as a rec.* style
    newsgroup, kind of a support group for Perl addicts (PerlAnon?).  There
    is also the group comp.lang.perl.announce, a place specifically for
    announcements related to perl (new releases, the FAQ, new modules,

    Larry is a frequent poster to this group as well as most (all?) of the
    seasoned Perl programmers.  Questions will be answered by some of the
    most knowledgable Perl Hackers, often within minutes of a question
    being posted (give or take distribution times).

2.2) Have any books or magazine articles been published about Perl?

    There are a number of books either available or planned.  Mostly
    chronologically, they are:

         Programming Perl (the Camel Book):
	     Author: Larry Wall and Randal Schwartz
	     Publisher: O'Reilly and Associates
             ISBN 0-937175-64-1  (English)
             ISBN 4-89052-384-7  (Japanese)
	     ISBN 3-446-17257-2	 (German)  (Programmieren in Perl)
			(translator: Hanser Verlag)

    This is probably the most well known and most useful book for 4.036 and
    earlier.  This part of O'Reilly's hugely successful "Nutshell Handbook"
    series.  Besides serving as a reference guide for Perl, it also contains
    tutorial material and is a great source of examples and cookbook
    procedures, as well as wit and wisdom, tricks and traps, pranks and
    pitfalls.  The code examples contained therein are available from or  Corrections and
    additions to the book can be found in the Perl4 man page right before
    the BUGS section under the heading ERRATA AND ADDENDA. 

         Learning Perl (the Llama Book):
             ISBN 1-56592-042-2      (English)
	     ISBN 4-89502-678-1      (Japanese)
	     ISBN 2-84177-005-2      (French)
	     ISBN 3-930673-08-8      (German)

    Another of O'Reilly's "Nutshell Handbooks", by Randal Schwartz.  This
    book is a smaller, gentler introduction to perl and is based off of
    Randal's perl classes.  While in general this is a good book for
    learning perl (like it's title), early printings did contain many typos
    and don't cover some of the more interesting features of perl.  Please
    check the errata sheet at, as well as the on-line examples.
    If you can't find these books in your local technical bookstore, they 
    may be ordered directly from O'Reilly by calling 1-800-998-9938 if in
    North America and 1-707-829-0515 otherwise.
    Johan Vromans* created a beautiful reference guide.  The reference
    guide comes with the Camel book in a nice, glossy format.  The LaTeX
    (source) and PostScript (ready to print) versions are available for FTP
    from in Europe or from in the United
    States.  Obsolete versions in TeX or troff may still be available, but
    these versions don't print as nicely.  See also:


    Johan has also updated and released a reference guide based on version
    5.000.  This is available from the same places as the 4.036 guide.
    This version is also available from in the /pub/gnu
    section along with the perl5 source.  It may be added to the standard
    perl5 distribution sometime after 5.002.  If you are using version
    5.000, you will want to get this version rather than the 4.036 version.

    Larry routinely carries around a camel stamp to use when autographing
    copies of his book.  If you can catch him at a conference you can
    usually get him to sign your book for you.

    Prentice Hall also has two perl books.  The first is ``Perl by
    Example'' by Ellie Quigley. (385 pages, $26.96, ISBN 0-13-122839-0) A
    perl tutorial (perl4); every feature is presented via an annotated
    example and sample output.  Reviews of this book have varied widely.
    Many new perl users have used this book with much success, while many
    "veteran" programmers have had many complaints about it.

    The second book is called ``Software Engineering with Perl'' by Carl
    Dichter and Mark Pease.  Randal Schwartz was a technical reviewer for
    this book and notes this:

	SEwP is not meant as instruction in the Perl language, but rather
	as an example of how Perl may be used to assist in the semi-formal 
	software engineering development cycles.  There's a lot of Perl
	code that's fairly well commented, but most of the book describes
	software engineering methodologies.  For the perl-challenged,
	there's a *light* treatment of the language as well, but they refer
	to the llama and the camel for the real meat.

    SAMS Publishing also has a Perl book available, as part of their "Teach
    Yourself in 21 Days" series, called "Teach Yourself Perl in 21 Days".
    ISBN 0-672-30586-0 Price: $29.95, 841 Pages.  This book is the first
    book to have a section devoted to version 5.000, although it was
    written during an alpha stage and may not necessarily reflect current

    Please note that none of the above books are perfect, all have some
    inaccurances and typos.  The two which Larry is directly associated
    with (the O'Reilly books) are probably the most technically correct,
    but also the most dated.  Carefully looking over any book you are
    considering purchasing will save you much time, money, and frustration.

    Starting in the March, 1995 edition of ``Unix Review''. Randal
    Schwartz* has been authoring a bi-monthly Perl column.  This has so
    far been an introductory tutorial.

    Larry Wall has published a 3-part article on perl in Unix World
    (August through October of 1991), and Rob Kolstad also had a 3-parter
    in Unix Review (May through July of 1990).  Tom Christiansen also has
    a brief overview article in the trade newsletter Unix Technology
    Advisor from November of 1989.  You might also investigate "The Wisdom
    of Perl" by Gordon Galligher from SunExpert magazine;  April 1991
    Volume 2 Number 4.  The Dec 92 Computer Language magazine also
    contains a cover article on Perl, "Perl: the Programmers Toolbox".

    Many other articles on Perl have been recently published.  If you 
    have references, especially on-line copies, please mail them to 
    the FAQ maintainer for inclusion is this notice.

    The USENIX LISA (Large Installations Systems Administration) Conference
    have for several years now included many papers of tools written in
    Perl.  Old proceedings of these conferences are available; look in
    your current issue of ";login:" or send mail to 
    for further information.

    Japan seems to be jumping with Perl books.  If you can read japanese
    here are a few you might be interested in.  Thanks to Jeffrey Friedl*
    and Ken Lunde* for this list (NOTE: my screen cannot handle japanese
    characters, so this is all in English for the moment  NOTE2: These
    books are written in Japanese, these titles are just translations):

	Title: Welcome to Perl Country	(Perl-no Kuni-he Youkoso)
	Authors: Kaoru Maeda, Hiroshi Koyama, Yasushi Saito and Arihito
    	Pages: 268+9	    	    	Publisher: Science Company	
    	Pub. Date: April 25, 1993   	ISBN: 4-7819-0697-4 		
    	Price: 2472Y	    	    	Author Email:
	Comments: Written during the time the Camel book was being 
	translated.  A useful introduction, but uses jperl (Japanese Perl)
	which is not necessarily compatible.

	Title: How to Write Perl    	(Perl Shohou)
	Author: Toshiyuki Masui
    	Pages: 352  	    	    	Publisher: ASCII Corporation	
    	Pub. Date: July 1, 1993	    	ISBN: 4-7561-0281-6		
    	Price: 3200Y	    	    	Author Email:
	Comments: More advanced than "Welcome.." and not meant as an
	introduction.  Uses the standard perl and has examples for handling
	Japanese text.

	Title: Introduction to Perl 	(Nyuumon Perl)
	Author: Shinji Kono
    	Pages: 203  	    	    	Publisher: ASCII Corporation	
    	Date: July 11, 1994 	    	ISBN: 4-7561-0292-1		
    	Price: 1800Y	    	    	Author Email:
	Comments: Uses the interactive Perl debugger to explain how things

	Title: Perl Programming 
	Authors: L Wall & R Schwartz	Translator: Yoshiyuki Kondo
    	Pages: 637+32	    	    	Publisher: Softbank Corporation	
    	Pub. Date: February 28, 1993	ISBN: 4-89052-384-7		
    	Price: 4500Y	    	    	Author Email:
	Comments: Official Japanese translation of the Camel book,
    	"Programming Perl".  Somewhat laced with translator notes to
    	explain the humour.  The most useful book.  Also includes the Perl
    	Quick Reference -- in Japanese!

2.3) When will the Camel and Llama books be updated?

    As of August, 1995, ORA has contracted with Stephen to handle the
    Camel update.  According to the accepted timeline, the first draft
    is to be finished by the end of April, 1996.  The tutorial sections
    are being cut some, and the book will take on much more of a reference
    style.  Don't worry, it will still contain it's distinctive humor and

    There are no current plans to update the Llama.  For the most part,
    it serves as a good introduction for both major versions of perl.  
    There may be some minor editing to it, but probably nothing major.  
    If anything, it is more likely that a third book (working title:
    Learning More Perl) will be written as a tutorial for the new perl5

2.4) What FTP resources are available?

    Since 1993, several ftp sites have sprung up for Perl and Perl related
    items.  The site with the biggest repository of Perl scripts right now
    seems to be [] in /pub/perl.  The
    scripts directory has an INDEX with over 400 lines in it, each
    describing what the script does.  The src directory has sources and/or
    binaries for a number of different perl ports, including MS-Dos,
    Macintosh and Windows/NT.  This is maintained by the Computing Staff at

	Note:  European users please use the site
	[] in /pub/computing/programming/languages/perl/
	The link speed would be a lot better for all.  Contact for more information.  It is updated

    There are also a number of other sites.  I'll add more of them as I get
    information on them.
    [site maintainers: if you want to add a blurb here, especially if you
    have something unique, please let me know. -spp]

    The Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN) is in heavy development.
    Once the main site and its mirrors are fully operational, this answer
    will change to reflect it's existance.

2.5) What WWW/gopher resources are available?

    The World Wide Web is exploding with new Perl sites all the time.  Some
    of the more notable ones are:, which has a great section on
		Perl5., a great site for European
		and UK users.

2.6) Can people who don't have access to USENET get comp.lang.perl.misc?

    "Perl-Users" is the mailing list version of the comp.lang.perl.misc
    newsgroup.  If you're not lucky enough to be on USENET you can post to
    comp.lang.perl.misc by sending to one of the following addresses.
    Which one will work best for you depends on which nets your site is
    hooked into.  Ask your local network guru if you're not certain.


    BitNet: Perl@Virginia

    uucp: ...!uunet!virginia!perl-users

    The Perl-Users list is bidirectionally gatewayed with the USENET
    newsgroup comp.lang.perl.misc.  This means that VIRGINIA functions as a
    reflector.  All traffic coming in from the non-USENET side is
    immediately posted to the newsgroup.  Postings from the USENET side are
    periodically digested and mailed out to the Perl-Users mailing list.  A
    digest is created and distributed at least once per day, more often if
    traffic warrants.

    All requests to be added to or deleted from this list, problems,
    questions, etc., should be sent to:

    Internet: Perl-Users-Request@Virginia.EDU

    BitNet: Perl-Req@Virginia

    uucp: ...!uunet!virginia!perl-users-request

    Coordinator: Marc Rouleau <mer6g@VIRGINIA.EDU>

2.7) Are archives of comp.lang.perl.misc available?

    Yes, there are.*/monthly has
    an almost complete collection dating back to 12/89 (missing 08/91
    through 12/93).  They are kept as one large file for each month.

    A more sophisticated query and retrieval mechanism is desirable.
    Preferably one that allows you to retrieve article using a fast-access
    indices, keyed on at least author, date, subject, thread (as in "trn")
    and probably keywords.  Right now, the MH pick command works for this,
    but it is very slow to select on 18000 articles.

    If you have, or know where I can find, the missing sections, please let know.

2.8) Is there a WAIS server for comp.lang.perl.*?

    Yes there is.  Set your WAIS client to*.  According to their
    introduction, they have a complete selection from 1989 on.

2.9) What other sources of information about Perl or training are available?

    There is a #Perl channel on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) where Tom and
    Randal have been known to hang out.  Here you can get immediate answers
    to questions from some of the most well-known Perl Hackers.

    The perl5-porters ( mailing list was created to
    aid in communication among the people working on perl5.  However, it
    has overgrown this function and now also handles a good deal of traffic
    about perl internals.

2.10) Where can I get training classes on Perl?

    USENIX, LISA, SUG, WCSAS, AUUG, FedUnix and Europen sponsor tutorials
    of varying lengths on Perl at the System Administration and General
    Conferences.  These public classes are typically taught by Tom

    In part, Tom and Randal teach Perl to help keep bread on their tables
    long enough while they continue their pro bono efforts of documenting
    perl (Tom keeps writing more man pages for it :-) and expanding the
    perl toolkit through extension libraries, work which they enjoy doing
    as it's fun and helps out the whole world, but which really doesn't
    pay the bills.  Such is the nature of free(ly available) software.
    Send mail to <> for details and availability.

    Tom is also available to teach on-site classes, included courses on
    advanced perl and perl5.  Classes run anywhere from one day to week
    long sessions and cover a wide range of subject matter.  Classes can
    include lab time with exercises, a generally beneficial aspect.  If you
    would like more information regarding Perl classes or when the next
    public appearances are, please contact Tom directly at 1.303.444.3212.

    Randal Schwartz* provides a 2-day lecture-only and a 4-5 day lecture-lab
    course based on his popular book "Learning Perl".  For details, contact
    Randal directly via email or at 1.503.777.0095.
    Internet One provides a 2 day "Introduction to Perl"  and  2  day
    "Advanced Perl" workshop. The 50% hands-on and 50% lecture format
    allow attendees to write several programs  themselves.   Supplied
    are  the user manuals, reference copies of Larry Wall's "Program-
    ming Perl", and a UNIX directory of  all  training  examples  and
    labs. To obtain outlines, pricing, or scheduling information, use
    the following:

        o Phone: 1.303.444.1993
        o Email: info@InternetOne.COM
        o See our Ad in the "SysAdmin" magazine
        o View the outlines via the Web: http://www.InternetOne.COM/

2.11) What companies use or ship Perl?

    At this time, the known list of companies that ship Perl includes at
    least the following, although some have snuck it into /usr/contrib or
    its moral equivalent: 

	Comdisco Systems
	CONVEX Computer Corporation
	Crosspoint Solutions
    	Data General
	DRD Corporation
	IBM (SP systems)
	Kubota Pacific 
	SGI (without taintperl)

    Some companies ship it on their "User Contributed Software Tape",
    such as DEC and HP.  Apple Computer has shipped the MPW version of
    Macintosh Perl on one of their Developer CDs (Essentials*Tools*Objects 
    #11) (and they included it under "Essentials" :-)

    Many other companies use Perl internally for purposes of tools
    development, systems administration, installation scripts, and test
    suites.  Rumor has it that the large workstation vendors (the TLA set)
    are seriously looking into shipping Perl with their standard systems

    People with support contracts with their vendors are actively 
    encouraged to submit enhancement requests that Perl be shipped 
    as part of their standard system.  It would, at the very least,
    reduce the FTP load on the Internet. :-)

    If you know of any others, please send them in.

2.12) Is there commercial, third-party support for Perl?

    Not really.  Although perl is included in the GNU distribution, at last
    check, Cygnus does not offer support for it.  However, it's unclear
    whether they've ever been offered sufficient financial incentive to do
    so.  Feel free to try.

    On the other hand, you do have comp.lang.perl.misc as a totally gratis
    support mechanism.  As long as you ask "interesting" questions, you'll
    probably get plenty of help. :-) 

    While some vendors do ship Perl with their platforms, that doesn't mean
    they support it on arbitrary other platforms.  And in fact, all they'll
    probably do is forward any bug reports on to Larry.  In practice, this
    is far better support than you could hope for from nearly any vendor.

    If you purchase a product from Netlabs (the company Larry works for),
    you actually can get a support contract that includes Perl.

    The companies who won't use something unless they can pay money for it
    will be left out.  Often they're motivated by wanting someone whom they
    could sue.  If all they want is someone to help them out with Perl
    problems, there's always the net.  And if they really want to pay
    someone for that help, well, any of a number of the regular Perl
    "dignitaries" would appreciate the money.  ;-)

    If companies want "commercial support" for it badly enough, speak up --
    something might be able to be arranged. 

2.13) What is a JAPH?  What does "Will hack perl for ..." mean?

    These are the "just another perl hacker" signatures that some people
    sign their postings with.  About 100 of the of the earlier ones are
    available from the various FTP sites.

    When people started running out of tricky and interesting JAPHs, some
    of them turned to writing "Will hack perl for ..." quotes.  While
    sometimes humourous, they just didn't have the flair of the JAPHs and
    have since almost completely vanished.

2.14) Where can I get a list of Larry Wall witticisms?

    Over a hundred quips by Larry, from postings of his or source code,
    can be found in many of the FTP sites or through the World Wide Web at

2.15) What are the known bugs?

    This is *NOT* a complete list, just some of the more common bugs that
    tend to bite people.

	op.c: Inconsistent parameter definition for pad_findlex - fixed
	    in 5.001a, get development patches a-l.

	walk.c: redeclaration of emit_split - fixed in perl5.001a, get
	    development patches a-l.

	On linux systems "make test" fails on "op/exec Failed test 5".  This
	    is a known bug with bash, not perl.  You can get a new version 
	    of bash.

	Also on linux systems, "make test" hangs on lib/anydbm if you include
	    NDBM in the extentions.  Do not include NDBM.

	Another linux problem is getting Dynamic Loading to work.  You must
	    use dld-2.3.6 (the newest version at the time of writing) to
	    use Dynamic Loading.

    - All versions of h2ph previous to the one supplied with perl5.001 tended
    to generate improper header files.  Something such as:

        #if __GNUC__
    was incorrectly translated into

    	if ( &__GNUC__ ) {

    instead of 

    	if ( defined(&__GNUC__) ? &__GNUC__ : 0 ) {

    Perl5 binaries compiled on SunOS4 exhibit strange behaviour on SunOS5.
	For example, backticks do not work in the scripts.  You need to
	compile perl for both architectures, even with Binary Compatibility.

2.16) Where should I post bugs?

    Before posting about a bug, please make sure that you are using the
    most recent versions of perl (currently 4.036 and 5.001) available.
    Please also check at the major archive sites to see if there are any
    development patches available (usually named something like
    perl5.001a.patch or patch5.001a - the patch itself, or
    perl5.001a.tar.gz - a prepatched distribution).  If you are not using
    one of these versions, chances are you will be told to upgrade because   
    the bug has already been fixed.

    If you are reporting a bug in perl5, the best place to send your bug
    is <>, which is currently just an alias for
    <>.  In the past, there have been problems with
    the perlbug address.  If you have problems with it, please send your
    bug directly to <>.  You may subscribe to the list
    in the customary fashion via mail to <>.
    Feel free to post your bugs to the comp.lang.perl.misc newsgroup as
    well, but do make sure they still go to the mailing list.

    If you are posting a bug with a non-Unix port, a non-standard Module
    (such as Tk, Sx, etc) please see the documentation that came with it
    to determine the correct place to post bugs.

    To enhance your chances of getting any bug you report fixed:

    1. Make sure you are using a production version of perl.  Alpha and
       Beta version problems have probably already been reported and

    2. Try to narrow the problem down to as small a piece of code as
       possible.  If you can get it down to 1 line of Perl then so much
       the better.

    3. Include a copy of the output from the myconfig script from the
       Perl source distribution in your posting.

2.17) Where should I post source code?

    You should post source code to whichever group is most appropriate,
    but feel free to cross-post to comp.lang.perl.misc.  If you want to
    cross-post to alt.sources, please make sure it follows their
    posting standards, including setting the Followups-To header
    line to NOT include alt.sources; see their FAQ for details.

2.18) Where can I learn about object-oriented Perl programming?

    The perlobj(1) man page is a good place to start, and then you can
    check out the excellent perlbot(1) man page written by the dean of perl
    o-o himself, Dean Roehrich.  Areas covered include the following:

    	Idx  Subsections in perlobj.1          Lines
         1   NAME                                  2
         2   DESCRIPTION                          16
         3   An Object is Simply a Reference      60
         4   A Class is Simply a Package          31
         5   A Method is Simply a Subroutine      34
         6   Method Invocation                    75
         7   Destructors                          14
         8   Summary                               7

        Idx  Subsections in perlbot.1          Lines
         1   NAME                                  2
         2   INTRODUCTION                          9
         3   Instance Variables                   43
         4   Scalar Instance Variables            21
         5   Instance Variable Inheritance        35
         6   Object Relationships                 33
         7   Overriding Superclass Methods        49
         8   Using Relationship with Sdbm         45
         9   Thinking of Code Reuse              111

    The section on instance variables should prove very helpful to those
    wondering how to get data inheritance in perl. 

2.19) Where can I learn about linking C with Perl? [h2xs, xsubpp]

    While it used to be deep magic, how to do this is now revealed in the
    perlapi(1), perlguts(1), and perlcall(1) man pages, which treat with
    this matter extensively.  You should also check the many extensions
    that people have written (see question 1.19), many of which do this
    very thing.

2.20) What is is just Tom's domain name, registered as dedicated to "Perl
    training and consulting".  While not a full ftp site (he hasn't got
    the bandwidth (yet)), it does have some interesting bits, most of which
    are replicated elsewhere.  It serves as a clearinghouse for certain
    perl related mailing lists.  The following aliases work:

    	perl-packrats:          The archivist list
      	perl-porters:           The porters list
    	perlbook:               The Camel/Llama/Alpaca writing committee
    	perlbugs:               The bug list (perl-porters for now)
    	perlclasses:            Info on Perl training
    	perlfaq:                Submissions/Errata to the Perl FAQ
    	    	    	    	(Tom and Steve)
    	perlrefguide:           Submissions/Errata to the Perl RefGuide

2.21) What do the asterisks (*) throughout the FAQ stand for?

    To keep from cluttering up the FAQ and for easy reference all email
    addresses have been collected in this location.  For each person
    listed, I offer my thanks for their input and help.

    * Larry Wall	    <>
    * Tom Christiansen	    <>
    * Stephen P Potter	    <>
    * Andreas Koenig	    <k@franz.ww.TU-Berlin.DE>
    * Bill Eldridge	    <>
    * Buzz Moschetti	    <>
    * Casper H.S. Dik	    <>
    * David Muir Sharnoff   <>
    * Dean Roehrich         <>
    * Dominic Giampaolo     <>,
    * Frederic Chauveau     <>
    * Gene Spafford         <>
    * Guido van Rossum	    <>
    * Henk P Penning	    <>
    * Jeff Friedl	    <>
    * Johan Vromans	    <>
    * John Dallman	    <>
    * John Lees		    <>
    * John Ousterhout	    <>
    * Jon Biggar	    <>
    * Ken Lunde	    	    <>
    * Malcolm Beattie	    <>
    * Matthias Neeracher    <>
    * Michael D'Errico	    <>
    * Nick Ing-Simmons	    <>
    * Randal Schwartz	    <>
    * Roberto Salama	    <>
    * Steven L Kunz	    <>
    * Theodore C. Law	    <TEDLAW@TOROLAB6.VNET.IBM.COM>
    * Thomas R. Kimpton	    <>
    * Timothy Murphy	    <>
    * UF Computer Staff	    <>

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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