Dennis Taylor


Net::Finger - a Perl implementation of a finger client.


  use Net::Finger;

  # You can put the response in a scalar...
  $response = finger('');
  unless ($response) {
      warn "Finger problem: $Net::Finger::error";

  # ...or an array.
  @lines = finger('', 1);


Net::Finger is a simple, straightforward implementation of a finger client in Perl -- so simple, in fact, that writing this documentation is almost unnecessary.

This module has one automatically exported function, appropriately entitled finger(). It takes two arguments:

  • A username or email address to finger. (Yes, it does support the vaguely deprecated "user@host@host" syntax.) If you need to use a port other than the default finger port (79), you can specify it like so: "username@hostname:port".

  • (Optional) A boolean value for verbosity. True == verbose output. If you don't give it a value, it defaults to false. Actually, whether this output will differ from the non-verbose version at all is up to the finger server.

finger() is context-sensitive. If it's used in a scalar context, it will return the server's response in one large string. If it's used in an array context, it will return the response as a list, line by line. If an error of some sort occurs, it returns undef and puts a string describing the error into the package global variable $Net::Finger::error. If you'd like to see some excessively verbose output describing every step finger() takes while talking to the other server, put a true value in the variable $Net::Finger::debug.

Here's a sample program that implements a very tiny, stripped-down finger(1):

    #!/usr/bin/perl -w

    use Net::Finger;
    use Getopt::Std;
    use vars qw($opt_l);

    $x = finger($ARGV[0], $opt_l);

    if ($x) {
        print $x;
    } else {
        warn "$0: error: $Net::Finger::error\n";


  • Doesn't yet do non-blocking requests. (FITNR. Really.)

  • Doesn't do local requests unless there's a finger server running on localhost.

  • Contrary to the name's implications, this module involves no teledildonics.


Dennis Taylor, <>


perl(1), finger(1), RFC 1288.