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Alias (5735)

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Journal of Alias (5735)

Monday October 20, 2008
11:54 PM

Strawberry Perl October 2008 Released!

[ #37708 ]

http://strawberry-perl.googlecode.com/files/strawberry-perl-5.10.0.3.exe

(more installers available on the releases page)

I'm proud to announce Strawberry Perl October 2008, the next quarterly iteration in the InnoSetup-based Strawberry Perl series.

The biggest feature in this release is (finally) full support for META.yml configure_requires: out of the box, when using the default CPAN.pm client.

In a weird coincidence yesterday I was visiting a friend to recover a whiteboard they were storing for me, and found the discovered the original whiteboard sketches from the brainstorming session after YAPC::AU 2006 where semantic web and RDF hacker Andrae Muys and I dreamed up the initial concept.

So having this all finally in the wild makes me very very happy.

The second major change for users in this release is actually the removal of some legacy settings in relation to library and include paths that are no longer needed.

Without these old settings confusing their Makefile.PL logic, both Wx.pm and Tk.pm now build successfully. (Although apparently an unrelated issue is still breaking Tk on vista, but this should be resolved shortly)

As a result, a large number of desktop applications that use these two libraries can now be installed easily with a simple CPAN command like (for example) "cpan install Padre". The first time this command is going to take some time to compile the widget set, but it does work reliably. This removes one of the major blockers for Chocolate Perl.

This release also adds two new platforms to the Strawberry family.

One recurring comment I get is that in corporate environments (like mine in fact) the C: drive is completely locked down to the Standard Operating Environment, and only the D: drive is free for general use.

So this release adds a second installer for both Perl 5.10.0 and Perl 5.8.8 that installs Perl to D:\strawberry rather than C:\strawberry. The is a temporary solution to the problem of not being able to specify the install path. This separate release will be end-of-life'd once the main installer gains the ability to install to arbitrary paths.

The second new install is the first "official" beta of Strawberry Perl Portable, a Strawberry Perl build that integrates the "Perl on a Stick" functionality developed during my recent world tour.

This release represents the end of my grant work, but merely the beginning for Portable Perl. There are still bound to be bugs in the build, particularly in the area of the C parts of the toolchain.

To try it out, download the Strawberry Perl Portable 5.10.0.3 ZIP package, and extract it into any path (which does NOT have any spaces) on a flash drive, digital camera, mp3 player or any other device that mounts as a lettered drive under Windows.

And now to the bad news, because all this Strawberry does comes with a downside.

Although it has served us well, it now appears we are approaching the limit of what can be done with Inno Setup and .exe installers. October 2008 is very much a "lipstick on a pig" release. There's only so much you we can do to make it better past this point.

The majority of remaining bug reports and feature requests can only be solved by abandoning Inno Setup and the .exe format and migrating to WiX (Windows Installer XML) and the .msi format.

Fortunately, the latest release of WiX contains a very functional MSI disassembler, which allows you to rip apart other people's MSI installers to see how they were built.

With these new example files available, it appears that a new build system that targets .msi is achievable with a reasonable amount of effort in a reasonable amount of time.

So this new 4th generation build system (tentatively called Perl::Dist::WiX) will be the main focus of my efforts from now on.

I hope to complete this migration in one or two release cycles. Strawberry will continue to release quarterly, but I expect these releases to be mostly more of the same from here on.

In the mean time, enjoy the new release. I'm finding it much much easier to work with during my own development efforts, and I hope you do to.

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