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Perl Documentation

NAME

perlrun - how to execute the Perl interpreter

SYNOPSIS

perl pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp

DESCRIPTION

The normal way to run a Perl program is by making it directly executable, or else by passing the name of the source file as an argument on the command line. (An interactive Perl environment is also possible--see perldebug for details on how to do that.) Upon startup, Perl looks for your program in one of the following places:

  1. Specified line by line via -e or -E switches on the command line.

  2. Contained in the file specified by the first filename on the command line. (Note that systems supporting the #! notation invoke interpreters this way. See "Location of Perl".)

  3. Passed in implicitly via standard input. This works only if there are no filename arguments--to pass arguments to a STDIN-read program you must explicitly specify a "-" for the program name.

With methods 2 and 3, Perl starts parsing the input file from the beginning, unless you've specified a -x switch, in which case it scans for the first line starting with #! and containing the word "perl", and starts there instead. This is useful for running a program embedded in a larger message. (In this case you would indicate the end of the program using the __END__ token.)

The #! line is always examined for switches as the line is being parsed. Thus, if you're on a machine that allows only one argument with the #! line, or worse, doesn't even recognize the #! line, you still can get consistent switch behaviour regardless of how Perl was invoked, even if -x was used to find the beginning of the program.

Because historically some operating systems silently chopped off kernel interpretation of the #! line after 32 characters, some switches may be passed in on the command line, and some may not; you could even get a "-" without its letter, if you're not careful. You probably want to make sure that all your switches fall either before or after that 32-character boundary. Most switches don't actually care if they're processed redundantly, but getting a "-" instead of a complete switch could cause Perl to try to execute standard input instead of your program. And a partial -I switch could also cause odd results.

Some switches do care if they are processed twice, for instance combinations of -l and -0. Either put all the switches after the 32-character boundary (if applicable), or replace the use of -0digits by BEGIN{ $/ = "\0digits"; }.

Parsing of the #! switches starts wherever "perl" is mentioned in the line. The sequences "-*" and "- " are specifically ignored so that you could, if you were so inclined, say

#!/bin/sh
#! -*-perl-*-
eval 'exec perl -x -wS $0 ${1+"$@"}'
    if 0;

to let Perl see the -p switch.

A similar trick involves the env program, if you have it.

#!/usr/bin/env perl

The examples above use a relative path to the perl interpreter, getting whatever version is first in the user's path. If you want a specific version of Perl, say, perl5.14.1, you should place that directly in the #! line's path.

If the #! line does not contain the word "perl" nor the word "indir", the program named after the #! is executed instead of the Perl interpreter. This is slightly bizarre, but it helps people on machines that don't do #!, because they can tell a program that their SHELL is /usr/bin/perl, and Perl will then dispatch the program to the correct interpreter for them.

After locating your program, Perl compiles the entire program to an internal form. If there are any compilation errors, execution of the program is not attempted. (This is unlike the typical shell script, which might run part-way through before finding a syntax error.)

If the program is syntactically correct, it is executed. If the program runs off the end without hitting an exit() or die() operator, an implicit exit(0) is provided to indicate successful completion.

#! and quoting on non-Unix systems

Unix's #! technique can be simulated on other systems:

Command-interpreters on non-Unix systems have rather different ideas on quoting than Unix shells. You'll need to learn the special characters in your command-interpreter (*, \ and " are common) and how to protect whitespace and these characters to run one-liners (see -e below).

On some systems, you may have to change single-quotes to double ones, which you must not do on Unix or Plan 9 systems. You might also have to change a single % to a %%.

For example:

# Unix
perl -e 'print "Hello world\n"'
# MS-DOS, etc.
perl -e "print \"Hello world\n\""
# VMS
perl -e "print ""Hello world\n"""

The problem is that none of this is reliable: it depends on the command and it is entirely possible neither works. If 4DOS were the command shell, this would probably work better:

perl -e "print <Ctrl-x>"Hello world\n<Ctrl-x>""

CMD.EXE in Windows NT slipped a lot of standard Unix functionality in when nobody was looking, but just try to find documentation for its quoting rules.

There is no general solution to all of this. It's just a mess.

Location of Perl

It may seem obvious to say, but Perl is useful only when users can easily find it. When possible, it's good for both /usr/bin/perl and /usr/local/bin/perl to be symlinks to the actual binary. If that can't be done, system administrators are strongly encouraged to put (symlinks to) perl and its accompanying utilities into a directory typically found along a user's PATH, or in some other obvious and convenient place.

In this documentation, #!/usr/bin/perl on the first line of the program will stand in for whatever method works on your system. You are advised to use a specific path if you care about a specific version.

#!/usr/local/bin/perl5.14

or if you just want to be running at least version, place a statement like this at the top of your program:

use 5.014;

Command Switches

As with all standard commands, a single-character switch may be clustered with the following switch, if any.

#!/usr/bin/perl -spi.orig	# same as -s -p -i.orig

A -- signals the end of options and disables further option processing. Any arguments after the -- are treated as filenames and arguments.

Switches include:

ENVIRONMENT

Perl also has environment variables that control how Perl handles data specific to particular natural languages; see perllocale.

Perl and its various modules and components, including its test frameworks, may sometimes make use of certain other environment variables. Some of these are specific to a particular platform. Please consult the appropriate module documentation and any documentation for your platform (like perlsolaris, perllinux, perlmacosx, perlwin32, etc) for variables peculiar to those specific situations.

Perl makes all environment variables available to the program being executed, and passes these along to any child processes it starts. However, programs running setuid would do well to execute the following lines before doing anything else, just to keep people honest:

$ENV{PATH}  = "/bin:/usr/bin";    # or whatever you need
$ENV{SHELL} = "/bin/sh" if exists $ENV{SHELL};
delete @ENV{qw(IFS CDPATH ENV BASH_ENV)};