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Perl 5.6.1 Documentation

For ease of access, the Perl manual has been split up into several sections:

perl		Perl overview (this section)
perlfaq		Perl frequently asked questions
perltoc		Perl documentation table of contents
perlbook		Perl book information

perlsyn		Perl syntax
perldata		Perl data structures
perlop		Perl operators and precedence
perlsub		Perl subroutines
perlfunc		Perl builtin functions
perlreftut		Perl references short introduction
perldsc		Perl data structures intro
perlrequick		Perl regular expressions quick start
perlpod		Perl plain old documentation
perlstyle		Perl style guide
perltrap		Perl traps for the unwary

perlrun		Perl execution and options
perldiag		Perl diagnostic messages
perllexwarn		Perl warnings and their control
perldebtut		Perl debugging tutorial
perldebug		Perl debugging

perlvar		Perl predefined variables
perllol		Perl data structures: arrays of arrays
perlopentut		Perl open() tutorial
perlretut		Perl regular expressions tutorial

perlre		Perl regular expressions, the rest of the story
perlref		Perl references, the rest of the story

perlform		Perl formats

perlboot		Perl OO tutorial for beginners
perltoot		Perl OO tutorial, part 1
perltootc		Perl OO tutorial, part 2
perlobj		Perl objects
perlbot		Perl OO tricks and examples
perltie		Perl objects hidden behind simple variables

perlipc		Perl interprocess communication
perlfork		Perl fork() information
perlnumber		Perl number semantics
perlthrtut		Perl threads tutorial

perlport		Perl portability guide
perllocale		Perl locale support
perlunicode		Perl unicode support
perlebcdic		Considerations for running Perl on EBCDIC platforms

perlsec		Perl security

perlmod		Perl modules: how they work
perlmodlib		Perl modules: how to write and use
perlmodinstall	Perl modules: how to install from CPAN
perlnewmod		Perl modules: preparing a new module for distribution

perlfaq1		General Questions About Perl
perlfaq2		Obtaining and Learning about Perl
perlfaq3		Programming Tools
perlfaq4		Data Manipulation
perlfaq5		Files and Formats
perlfaq6		Regexes
perlfaq7		Perl Language Issues
perlfaq8		System Interaction
perlfaq9		Networking

perlcompile		Perl compiler suite intro

perlembed		Perl ways to embed perl in your C or C++ application
perldebguts		Perl debugging guts and tips
perlxstut		Perl XS tutorial
perlxs		Perl XS application programming interface
perlclib		Internal replacements for standard C library functions
perlguts		Perl internal functions for those doing extensions
perlcall		Perl calling conventions from C
perlutil		utilities packaged with the Perl distribution
perlfilter		Perl source filters
perldbmfilter	Perl DBM filters
perlapi		Perl API listing (autogenerated)
perlintern		Perl internal functions (autogenerated)
perlapio		Perl internal IO abstraction interface
perltodo		Perl things to do
perlhack		Perl hackers guide

perlhist		Perl history records
perldelta		Perl changes since previous version
perl5005delta	Perl changes in version 5.005
perl5004delta	Perl changes in version 5.004

perlaix		Perl notes for AIX
perlamiga		Perl notes for Amiga
perlbs2000		Perl notes for POSIX-BC BS2000
perlcygwin		Perl notes for Cygwin
perldos		Perl notes for DOS
perlepoc		Perl notes for EPOC
perlhpux		Perl notes for HP-UX
perlmachten		Perl notes for Power MachTen
perlmacos		Perl notes for Mac OS (Classic)
perlmpeix		Perl notes for MPE/iX
perlos2		Perl notes for OS/2
perlos390		Perl notes for OS/390
perlsolaris 	Perl notes for Solaris
perlvmesa		Perl notes for VM/ESA
perlvms		Perl notes for VMS
perlvos		Perl notes for Stratus VOS
perlwin32		Perl notes for Windows

(If you're intending to read these straight through for the first time, the suggested order will tend to reduce the number of forward references.)

By default, the manpages listed above are installed in the /usr/local/man/ directory.

Extensive additional documentation for Perl modules is available. The default configuration for perl will place this additional documentation in the /usr/local/lib/perl5/man directory (or else in the man subdirectory of the Perl library directory). Some of this additional documentation is distributed standard with Perl, but you'll also find documentation for third-party modules there.

You should be able to view Perl's documentation with your man(1) program by including the proper directories in the appropriate start-up files, or in the MANPATH environment variable. To find out where the configuration has installed the manpages, type:

perl -V:man.dir

If the directories have a common stem, such as /usr/local/man/man1 and /usr/local/man/man3, you need only to add that stem (/usr/local/man) to your man(1) configuration files or your MANPATH environment variable. If they do not share a stem, you'll have to add both stems.

If that doesn't work for some reason, you can still use the supplied perldoc script to view module information. You might also look into getting a replacement man program.

If something strange has gone wrong with your program and you're not sure where you should look for help, try the -w switch first. It will often point out exactly where the trouble is.

Full perl(1) documentation: perl

Reference Lists

About Perl

Perl is a language optimized for scanning arbitrary 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, efficient, complete) rather than beautiful (tiny, elegant, minimal).

Perl 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 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 tables used by hashes (sometimes called "associative arrays") grow as necessary to prevent degraded performance. Perl can use sophisticated pattern matching techniques to scan large amounts of data quickly. Although optimized for scanning text, Perl can also deal with binary data, and can make dbm files look like hashes. Setuid Perl scripts are safer than C programs through a dataflow tracing mechanism that prevents many stupid security holes.

If you have a problem that would ordinarily use sed or awk or sh, but it exceeds their capabilities 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.

But wait, there's more...

Begun in 1993 (see perlhist), Perl version 5 is nearly a complete rewrite that provides the following additional benefits:

Okay, that's definitely enough hype.