Perl FAQ, Part 2:
Informational Sources

2.1) Is there a USENET group for perl?
2.2) Have any books or magazine articles been published about perl?
2.3) When will the Camel and Llama books be updated?
2.4) What FTP resources are available?
2.5) What WWW/gopher resources are available?
2.6) Can people who don't have access to USENET get comp.lang.perl.misc?
2.7) Are archives of comp.lang.perl.* available?
2.8) Is there a WAIS server for comp.lang.perl.*?
2.9) What other sources of information about Perl or training are available?
2.10) Where can I get training classes on Perl?
2.11) What companies ship or use perl?
2.12) Is there commercial, third-party support for perl?
2.13) What is a JAPH? What does "Will hack perl for ..." mean?
2.14) Where can I get a collection of Larry Wall witticisms?
2.15) What are the known bugs?
2.16) Where should I post bugs?
2.17) Where should I post source code?
2.18) Where can I learn about object-orienting Perl programming?
2.19) Where can I learn about linking C with Perl? [h2xs, xsubpp]
2.20) What is
2.21) What do the asterisks (*) throughout the FAQ stand for?

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, etc).

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''):

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 its 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 reality.

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 work.

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 its distinctive humor and flair.

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 paradigm.

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 UF*.

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 daily.

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 its existence.

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.


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:

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.

Bill Middleton <> offers this:

I have setup a perl script retrieval service and WaisSearch here at feenix. To check it out, just point your gopher at us, and select the appropriate menu option. The WaisSearch is of the iubio type, which means you can do boolean searching. Thus you might try something like:
ioctl and fcntl
grep and socket not curses

and other things to see examples of how other folks have done this or that. This service is still under construction, but I'd like to get feedback, if you have some time.

There's also a WaisSearch into all the RFC's and some other fairly nifty stuff.

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 Christiansen*.

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 ``Programming Perl'', and a UNIX directory of all training examples and labs. To obtain outlines, pricing, or scheduling information, use the following:

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:

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

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 (EssentialsToolsObjects #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 ``soon''.

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. There are in 5.001:

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 fixed.

  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 König         k@franz.ww.TU-Berlin.DE
Bill Eldridge
Buzz Moschetti
Casper H.S. Dik
David Muir Sharnoff
Dean Roehrich
Dominic Giampaolo
Frédéric 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
Thomas R. Kimpton
Tim Bunce   
Timothy Murphy
UF Computer Staff
William Setzer

Other resources at this site: