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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • by jdavidb (1361) on 2002.03.06 13:25 (#5532) Homepage Journal

    I love RedHat 7.[12]. In fact, my response after a day of using RedHat 7.1 was, "I'm getting rid of my Macintosh." The system is well integrated, pleasant to use, and had all the software anyone else in my family might want.

    That said, I never use the system Perl on any machine. If there's a Perl that came with the OS in /usr/bin, I leave it alone. I don't install modules with it, I don't upgrade it, and I don't program with it. All my programs start with #!/usr/local/bin/perl5.6.1 so they are hardwired to the exact Perl installation I wrote them with and won't break on an upgrade.

    I have found installing modules with a vendor supplied Perl is often difficult, although I think the situation has gotten better. I would never want to be in a situation where I decided to upgrade /usr/bin/perl and broke a vendor-supplied program, either. And finally, if I move my program to a machine with an older (or newer) Perl in /usr/bin, it should just work, and the only way I can ensure that is by personally installing 5.6.1 in the location I want it (/usr/local/perl561 with symlinks from /usr/local/bin). I routinely use newer features without realizing they are new (my $fh; open($fh, "file"), for example), so this policy makes sense for me.

    So I'm thrilled RedHat upgraded, because that means I can trust any Perl programs they include more, but it won't affect my daily work as much as one might expect.

    To us on the fasttrack (those who install versions like 5.7.3 and 5.8.0-rc1), RedHat seems light-years behind. However, it takes time to do real integration testing to verify that everything else included with RedHat and based on Perl still works with the new version. Sure, we're convinced it does, but the corporate world wants it tested, and I'd hate to have one mistake leave people who only see RedHat's packages saying, "Perl has bugs." That integration testing it what makes RedHat better than doing it yourself [], at least for some purposes. So, a commercial distro can always be expected to lag behind, sometimes dramatically, not just with Perl but also with the kernel, python, and what-have-you.

    When did Debian upgrade to 5.6.1? I'm thinking it was actually quite recently.

    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • > When did Debian upgrade to 5.6.1? I'm thinking it was actually quite recently.

      "Depends" :)

      Debian is actually four concurrent distributions: security, stable, testing and unstable. Each distribution is a tradeoff between stablity and up-to-dateness. Packages flow from unstable to testing and down to stable.

      Perl 5.6.1 entered Debian unstable on May 21st, 2001. If I recall correctly it went into the testing distribution shortly after that and has been there since. It has yet to reach stable (whic
      • Debian is actually four concurrent distributions: security, stable, testing and unstable.

        Security isn't a distribution actually. If you must, call it a component of stable. Security upgrades are included in proposed-updates which get folded into stable every now and then.

        Perl 5.6.1 will be included in stable when Debian 3.0 (woody) releases. With some luck that will be sometime this millenium, and with truckloads of luck even before 5.8.0 sees the light of day.

    • If you're brave, you can go through the modules that came with the distribution. Get those for your 5.6.1 installation in /usr/local. Then, in a piece of bold genious, mv /usr/bin/perl /usr/bin/perl.junk ln -s /usr/local/bin/perl /usr/bin/perl If the Gods smile upon thee, you might find yourself with a gorgeous new 5.6.1 system. However, I doubt that'll work in the highly integrated modern distributions. Never know, tho. Shouldn't be unbootable if I'm wrong. A simple rm /usr/bin/perl mv /usr/bin/perl.ju