Chapter 1

What Is Perl?


  • Getting Perl
  • Learning about the community
  • Understanding the Perl documentation
  • Using a terminal
  • Writing your first Hello, World! program

My goodness, where to start? To even begin to cover a language with such a rich history and huge influence over the world of computing and the web is a daunting task, so this chapter just touches on the highlights.

By the time you finish with this chapter, you’ll have a good understanding of the history of Perl and where to go to get more help when you need to know more than this book offers. Learning how to find the answers to your questions is probably one of the most valuable skills you can develop.

Before you install Perl, a word about Perl terminology — information that you need to know to converse intelligently with other Perl users.

The name of the language is Perl. It is not PERL. Larry Wall, the creator of Perl, originally wanted a name with positive connotations and named the language Pearl, but before its release, he discovered another programming language named Pearl, so he shortened the name to Perl.

The name of the language causes a bit of confusion. When people write Perl (uppercase), they are referring to the programming language you learn in this book. When people write perl (lowercase), they are referring to the binary executable used to run Perl, the language.

So perl is the binary and Perl is the language. The former parses and runs the latter: perl parses and runs ...

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