Perl is perhaps the most popular of all open source tools, and the earliest to appear of the major open scripting languages. It is also used frequently to write database applications. We’ll explore the language in more depth in Chapter 3, where we also discuss other scripting languages. For now, we’ll focus on how Perl is used to connect to Oracle databases via its Perl Database Interface (DBI) module. (Perl DBI provides a generic interface to a variety of databases, including Oracle.)

Perl has become an important tool for Oracle DBAs and developers because it is operating system-independent, powerful, flexible, remarkably quick to code, and extremely fast in execution. These capabilities are especially important if you are working in a rapidly changing environment where one day you might be populating a data warehouse from a difficult data source, and the next day generating a dynamic web application. Today’s distributed corporate databases, so vital for the success of any business, have become almost too complex for their own survival, and many DBAs and developers have found that Perl is one of the best ways to tackle this complexity. With a script here and a script there, Perl can turn a potential data implosion into a real-world information explosion. Perl’s magical ability is all the more magical because it’s also freely available.

In the following sections we’ll describe how you can obtain and install Perl on Unix, Linux, and Win32 systems. We’ll also describe how the ...

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