Collecting my attempts to improve at tech, art, and life


Tags: perl coolnamehere


You probably already have Perl if you are running Linux or OS X. However, it is usually not the latest version of the language. I prefer to install my own copy. That way I can take advantage of new language features. Also, the system Perl is often used in administrative scripts. There is always the chance that my experiments will mess something up. It is not easy, but I have done it before.

Fortunately, there’s perlbrew. perlbrew allows you to install your own personal Perl, which doesn’t interfere with other installed versions. Speaking of versions: perlbrew lets you install and switch between multiple personal Perls. When Perl 5.16 is released, upgrading will be handled by a couple of quick commands.

Installing Perlbrew

There are a couple of ways to install perlbrew. Some of them only apply to specific platforms, while one should work on any UNIX-like operating system.

Fortunately, all of the installation techniques are simple.

Linux Packages

Fresh releases of some Linux distributions have perlbrew available as a package. I only know of a couple right now, but I will expand this if I learn of more.

Installing perlbrew on Fedora Linux

Current versions of Fedora Linux already have perlbrew available via yum.

$ su -
# yum install perlbrew

Installing perlbrew on Ubuntu 11.10

If you’re on the bleeding edge of Ubuntu development, or are reading this after October 2011, you’ll be happy to know that there is an Ubuntu 11.10 perlbrew package.

# Ubuntu 11.10 or later only!
$ sudo apt-get install perlbrew

Installing perlbrew on other UNIX-like systems

You will want to have a minimal development environment before you install perlbrew.


The build-essentials package provides the basic command line tools you will need to build and install Perl via perlbrew.

$ sudo apt-get install build-essentials

Once build-essentials has been installed, you can install perlbrew.

$ curl -L | bash


Install Xcode. It’s a simple step, but tends to take a while. Xcode is actually a huge Integrated Development environment. You can try gcc without Xcode if you’re not interested in the IDE. I have not tested it yet. I just know that it exists.

Once you have your development tools installed via Xcode, run the following command from a Terminal.

$ curl -L | bash

The official perlbrew page and the App::perlbrew documentation should help you get the details about fiddly bits of installing perlbrew.

Initializing Perlbrew

Regardless of how you installed perlbrew, now you will want to make sure it is set up for your account.

$ perlbrew init

You will get directions on the next step. It will probably be something like this:

Make sure you have something like the following line at the end of your shell profile. That’s ~/.bashrc for me.

source /Users/brian/perl5/perlbrew/etc/bashrc

Reload your settings either by opening a new Terminal or directly from the shell:

$ . ~/.bashrc

Now you are ready to install your own Perl.

Using perlbrew To Install Perl

It’s probably a good idea to see what Perl versions are available to install.

$ perlbrew available
   i perl-5.10.1

We’re looking for the latest stable release. Stable releases use an even number for the second number (perl-5.14.2, perl-5.12.4). The development releases (perl-5.15.3) probably will not interest you unless you are curious about features and fixes that are being experimented with for the next stable Perl. It is very rare that I install a development Perl.

Right now, the latest stable Perl is perl-5.14.2. Let’s install it with perlbrew install.

$ perlbrew install perl-5.14.2

A little while later, it’ll be complete. You can make this the default Perl for your account with perlbrew switch.

$ perlbrew switch perl-5.14.2

Let’s verify just to be on the safe side.

$ perl --version
This is perl 5, version 14, subversion 2 (v5.14.2) built for darwin-2level

There. Now we have the latest stable Perl, ready for us to use. The system Perl is completely safe.

As far as I can tell, there is no official way to carry installed Perl modules over to a new Perl installed via perlbrew. You can set the $PERL5LIB environment variable or rely on use lib if it’s important to use specific installed libraries.

Added to vault 2024-01-15. Updated on 2024-07-10