Running the CPAN shell on ActivePerl 5.8.x on Windows XP, I can see in Process Explorer that the bare CPAN shell uses a whopping 195MB of RAM (size of working set: 120MB). I mean... wauw!!
That does not even include the programs, including perl, that are invoked from
make, that actually test or install stuff. No, just the bare shell.
WTF is going on? Does the CPAN shell perhaps try to keep the whole module database in RAM? And if so: why? It's not as if looking up a distro by module name is so system critical, that it requires a sub-millisecond response time. So a slightly slower system, that greps through the data on file, would work just as well.
Fact is: memory consumption is 3 times lower before the metadata is first loaded. And it doesn't ever go down again... (As if it could.)
CPAN is now using several times more RAM than the average computer had, when CPAN.pm first came out. I doubt it used that much RAM, in those days.
p.s. For some bizarre reason, Strawberry Perl 5.10.x uses "only" 120MB. I have no idea why.