[Dxspider-support] Perl versions + CPAN

Dirk Koopman djk at tobit.co.uk
Mon Oct 14 12:39:33 BST 2002

As a direct result of last night's little contratemps with Windows, USDB
etc I thought I would say some words about versions of perl, CPAN etc.

Strangely, these are mainly directed at *nix installations rather than
Windows users. 

Although DXSpider is known to work with perl 5.005 (and maybe even
5.004), most development is done on 5.6.1 (in Windows speak this is
ActiveState build 633 [also highly recommended]). The modules that come
installed seem to vary enormously from distro to distro. I would like to
make the following recommendations:-

1. Would everybody please upgrade their perl to 5.6.1 (ActiveState build
633) - even those people running 5.6.0 (because this is known to be
buggy). If you are going to compile perl up (it isn't hard) then go the
whole hog and move to perl 5.8.0 - as I will be quite soon. 

2. Would everyone in *nix land configure CPAN (esp. if you have upgraded
to 5.6.1 first), this is also not hard and normally simply consists of
pressing return several times during the configuration (for UK users, I
find the plig.org and mirror.ac.uk mirrors the best). To start up CPAN
you do:- perl -MCPAN -eshell and then answer the questions. 

3. Once you have configured CPAN, I would recommend doing as it
suggests and do: install Bundle::CPAN. This will also involve much
pressing of the enter key. But it will be worth it. On my machine the
latest CPAN.pm creates a shell script in /usr/bin/cpan which save typing
perl -MCPAN -eshell all the time.

4. For windows users, ppm is the equivalent to CPAN and comes
preconfigered. Windows also seems to come with a much richer selection
of CPAN packages builtin. 

5. In both case, once installed, you can get new packages by going into
cpan/ppm and typing: install <package-name> (eg install Compress::Zlib
to use a current example). The system will then automatically go and
get/install install it for you. On Unix systems you will require a
development system to be installed, on Windows this shouldn't be

It is likely that I will need to use some more CPAN packages as I add
features so this is a problem which will re-occur. Installing CPAN and
using it will make everybody's lives that little bit easier.

Some words on perl 5.8.0, this is an Early Warning[tm]: 

This is the first release of perl that has comprehensive unicode support
in it. One of the things I want to do is have a total re-arrange of the
language support and unicode (specifically UTF8) is the way this will
go. At the point that ActiveState get their 5.8.x out in a stable form
and the main *nix distros start issuing 5.8.x I shall be making a
*MANDATORY* upgrade requirement to move to it. 

That was an Early Warning[tm] brought to from Dereham, Norfolk.

Thank you.

Dirk G1TLH

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