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release_managers_guide - Releasing a new version of perl 5.x

XXX as of Jul 2009, this file is still a work-in-progress. I think it contains all the actions needed to build a release, but things may have got skipped, and some things could do with polishing. Note that things change each release, there may be new things not covered here, or tools may need updating. DAPM


This document describes the series of tasks required - some automatic, some manual - to produce a perl release of some description, be that a snaphot, release candidate, or final, numbered release of maint or blead.

The release process has traditionally been executed by the current pumpking.

This document both helps as a check-list for the release engineer and is a base for ideas on how the various tasks could be automated or distributed.

The outline of a typical release cycle is as follows:

    (5.10.1 is released, and post-release actions have been done)

    ...time passes...

    an occasional snapshot is released, that still identifies itself as

    ...time passes...

    a few weeks before the release, a number of steps are performed,
        including bumping the version to 5.10.2

    ...a few weeks passes...

    perl-5.10.2-RC1 is released

    perl-5.10.2 is released

    post-release actions are performed, including creating new

    ... the cycle continues ...


Some of the tasks described below apply to all four types of release of Perl. (snapshot, RC, final release of maint, final release of blead). Some of these tasks apply only to a subset of these release types. If a step does not apply to a given type of release, you will see a notation to that effect at the beginning of the step.

Release types


A snapshot is intended to encourage in-depth testing from time-to-time, for example after a key point in the stabilisation of a branch. It requires fewer steps than a full release, and the version number of perl in the tarball will usually be the same as that of the previous release.

Release Candidate (RC)

XXX Describe me

Stable/Maint release

At this point you should have a working release candidate with few or no changes since.

It's essentially the same procedure as for making a release candidate, but with a whole bunch of extra post-release steps.

Blead release

It's essentially the same procedure as for making a release candidate, but with a whole bunch of extra post-release steps.


Before you can make an official release of perl, there are a few hoops you need to jump through:

PAUSE account

SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

Make sure you have a PAUSE account suitable for uploading a perl release. If you don't have a PAUSE account, then request one:


Check that your account is allowed to upload perl distros: goto https://pause.perl.org/, login, then select 'upload file to CPAN'; there should be a "For pumpkings only: Send a CC" tickbox. If not, ask Andreas König to add your ID to the list of people allowed to upload something called perl. You can find Andreas' email address at:

CPAN mirror

Some release engineering steps require a full mirror of the CPAN. Work to fall back to using a remote mirror via HTTP is incomplete but ongoing. (No, a minicpan mirror is not sufficient)

git checkout and commit bit

You will need a working git installation, checkout of the perl git repository and perl commit bit. For information about working with perl and git, see pod/perlrepository.pod.

If you are not yet a perl committer, you won't be able to make a release. Have a chat with whichever evil perl porter tried to talk you into the idea in the first place to figure out the best way to resolve the issue.

Quotation for release announcement epigraph

SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT and RC

For a numbered blead or maint release of perl, you will need a quotation to use as an epigraph to your release announcement. (There's no harm in having one for a snapshot, but it's not required).

Building a release - advance actions

The work of building a release candidate for a numbered release of perl generally starts several weeks before the first release candidate. Some of these should be done regularly, but all must be done in the runup to a release.

  • You MAY SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Ensure that dual-life CPAN modules are synchronised with CPAN. Basically, run the following:

        $ ./perl -Ilib Porting/core-cpan-diff -a -o /tmp/corediffs

    to see any inconsistencies between the core and CPAN versions of distros, then fix the core, or cajole CPAN authors as appropriate. See also the -d and -v options for more detail. You'll probably want to use the -c cachedir option to avoid repeated CPAN downloads.

    To see which core distro versions differ from the current CPAN versions:

        $ ./perl -Ilib Porting/core-cpan-diff -x -a

    if you are making a maint release, run core-cpan-diff on both blead and maint, then diff the two outputs. Compare this with what you expect, and if necessary, fix things up. For example, you might think that both blead and maint are synchronised with a particular CPAN module, but one might have some extra changes.

  • You MAY SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Ensure dual-life CPAN modules are stable, which comes down to:

        for each module that fails its regression tests on $current
            did it fail identically on $previous?
            if yes, "SEP" (Somebody Else's Problem)
            else work out why it failed (a bisect is useful for this)
        attempt to group failure causes
        for each failure cause
            is that a regression?
            if yes, figure out how to fix it
                (more code? revert the code that broke it)
                (presumably) it's relying on something un-or-under-documented
                should the existing behaviour stay?
                    yes - goto "regression"
                    no - note it in perldelta as a significant bugfix
                    (also, try to inform the module's author)
  • You MAY SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Similarly, monitor the smoking of core tests, and try to fix.

  • You MAY SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Similarly, monitor the smoking of perl for compiler warnings, and try to fix.

  • You MAY SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Run Porting/cmpVERSION.pl to compare the current source tree with the previous version to check for for modules that have identical version numbers but different contents, e.g.:

         $ cd ~/some-perl-root
         $ ./perl -Ilib Porting/cmpVERSION.pl -xd ~/my_perl-tarballs/perl-5.10.0 .

    then bump the version numbers of any non-dual-life modules that have changed since the previous release, but which still have the old version number. If there is more than one maintenance branch (e.g. 5.8.x, 5.10.x), then compare against both.

    Note that some of the files listed may be generated (e.g. copied from ext/ to lib/, or a script like lib/lib_pm.PL is run to produce lib/lib.pm); make sure you edit the correct file!

    Once all version numbers have been bumped, re-run the checks.

    Then run again without the -x option, to check that dual-life modules are also sensible.

  • You MAY SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Get perldelta in a mostly finished state.

    Peruse Porting/how_to_write_a_perldelta.pod, and try to make sure that every section it lists is, if necessary, populated and complete. Copy edit the whole document.

  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    A week or two before the first release candidate, bump the perl version number (e.g. from 5.10.0 to 5.10.1), to allow sufficient time for testing and smoking with the target version built into the perl executable. For subsequent release candidates and the final release, it it not necessary to bump the version further.

    There is a tool to semi-automate this process. It works in two stages. First, it generates a list of suggested changes, which you review and edit; then you feed this list back and it applies the edits. So, first scan the source dir looking for likely candidates:

        $ Porting/bump-perl-version -s 5.10.0 5.10.1 > /tmp/scan

    This produces a file containing a list of suggested edits, eg:

           89: -MODULE_DESC     = "Perl 5.10.0 for NetWare"
               +MODULE_DESC     = "Perl 5.10.1 for NetWare"

    i.e. in the file NetWare/Makefile, line 89 would be changed as shown. Review the file carefully, and delete any -/+ line pairs that you don't want changing. Remember that this tool is largely just grepping for '5.10.0' or whatever, so it will generate false positives. Be careful not change text like "this was fixed in 5.10.0"! Then run:

        $ Porting/bump-perl-version -u < /tmp/scan

    which will update all the files shown; then commit the changes.

    Be particularly careful with INSTALL, which contains a mixture of 5.10.0-type strings, some of which need bumping on every release, and some of which need to be left. Also note that this tool currently only performs a single change per line, so in particular, this line in README.vms needs special handling:

        rename perl-5^.10^.1.dir perl-5_10_1.dir
  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Review and update INSTALL to account for the change in version number; in particular, the "Coexistence with earlier versions of perl 5" section.

  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Update the Changes file to contain the git log command which would show all the changes in this release. You will need assume the existence of a not-yet created tag for the forthcoming release; e.g.

        git log ... perl-5.10.0..perl5.12.0

    Due to warts in the perforce-to-git migration, some branches require extra exclusions to avoid other branches being pulled in. Make sure you have the correct incantation: replace the not-yet-created tag with HEAD and see if git log produces roughly the right number of commits across roughly the right time period.

  • Check some more build configurations, e.g.

         -Duseshrplib -Dd_dosuid
         make suidperl

    Check that setuid installs works (for < 5.11.0 only). XXX any other configs?

  • You MAY SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Update AUTHORS, using the Porting/checkAUTHORS.pl script, and if necessary, update the script to include new alias mappings for porters already in AUTHORS

            $ git log | perl Porting/checkAUTHORS.pl --acknowledged AUTHORS -
  • You MAY SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    As there are no regular smokes [ XXX yet - please fix?] find out about the state of the current branch on VMS. If the branch you're releasing on is failing tests on VMS, you may not want to do a release.

Building a release - on the day

This section describes the actions required to make a release (or snapshot etc) that are performed on the actual day.

  • Review all the items in the previous section, "Building a release - advance actions" to ensure they are all done and up-to-date.

  • You MAY SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Re-read the perldelta to try to find any embarrassing typos and thinkos; remove any TODO or XXX flags; update the "Known Problems" section with any serious issues for which fixes are not going to happen now; and run through pod and spell checkers, e.g.

        podchecker -warnings -warnings pod/perl5101delta.pod
        spell pod/perl5101delta.pod

    Also, you may want to generate and view an HTML version of it to check formatting, e.g.

        perl pod/pod2html pod/perl5101delta.pod > /tmp/perl5101delta.html
  • Make sure you have a gitwise-clean perl directory (no modified files, unpushed commits etc):

        $ git status
  • If not already built, Configure and build perl so that you have a Makefile and porting tools:

        $ ./Configure -Dusedevel -des
        $ make
  • Check that files managed by regen.pl and friends are up to date. From within your working directory:

        $ git status
        $ make regen
        $ make regen_perly
        $ git status

    If any of the files managed by regen.pl have changed, then you should re-make perl to check that it's okay, then commit the updated versions:

        $ git commit -a -m 'make regn; make regn_perly'
  • Rebuild META.yml:

        $ rm META.yml
        $ make META.yml
        $ git diff

    XXX it would be nice to make Porting/makemeta use regen_lib.pl to get the same 'update the file if its changed' functionality we get with 'make regen' etc.

    Commit META.yml if it has changed:

        $ git commit -m 'Update META.yml' META.yml
  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Update Module::Corelist.

    Note that if this is a maint release, you should run the following actions from the maint directory, but commit the Corelist.pm changes in blead and subsequently cherry-pick it.

    corelist.pl uses ftp.funet.fi to verify information about dual-lived modules on CPAN. It can use a full, local CPAN mirror or fall back to wget or curl to fetch only package metadata remotely.

    (If you'd prefer to have a full CPAN mirror, see http://www.cpan.org/misc/cpan-faq.html#How_mirror_CPAN)

    Then change to your perl checkout, and if necessary,

        $ make perl

    Thenn, If you have a local CPAN mirror, run:

        $ ./perl -Ilib Porting/corelist.pl ~/my-cpan-mirror

    Otherwise, run:

        $ ./perl -Ilib Porting/corelist.pl cpan

    This will chug for a while. Assuming all goes well, it will update lib/Module/CoreList.pm.

    Check that file over carefully:

        $ git diff lib/Module/CoreList.pm

    In particular, if this not the first update for this version, make sure that there isn't a duplicated entry (e.g. '5.010001' entries for both RC1 and RC2).

    XXX the edit-in-place functionality of Porting/corelist.pl should be fixed to allow for this

    If necessary, bump $VERSION (there's no need to do this for every RC; in RC1, bump the version to a new clean number that will appear in the final release, and leave as-is for the later RCs and final).

    Edit the version number in the new 'Module::CoreList' => 'X.YZ' entry, as that is likely to reflect the previous version number.

    In addition, if this is a final release (rather than a release candidate):

    • Update this version's entry in the %released hash with today's date.

    • Make sure that the script has correctly updated the CAVEATS section

    Finally, commit the new version of Module::CoreList: (unless this is for maint; in which case commit it blead first, then cherry-pick it back).

        $ git commit -m 'Updated Module::CoreList for the 5.x.y release' \
  • Check that the manifest is sorted and correct:

        $ make manisort
        $ make distclean
        $ perl Porting/manicheck

    Commit MANIFEST if it has changed:

        $ git commit -m 'Update MANIFEST' MANIFEST
  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Add an entry to pod/perlhist.pod with the current date, e.g.:

        David    5.10.1-RC1    2009-Aug-06

    Make sure that the correct pumpking is listed in the left-hand column, and if this is the first release under the stewardship of a new pumpking, make sure that his or her name is listed in the section entitled THE KEEPERS OF THE PUMPKIN.

    Be sure to commit your changes:

        $ git commit -m 'add new release to perlhist' pod/perlhist.pod
  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Update patchlevel.h to add a -RC1-or-whatever string; or, if this is a final release, remove it. For example:

         static const char * const local_patches[] = {
        +        ,"RC1"
                 PERL_GIT_UNPUSHED_COMMITS /* do not remove this line */

    Be sure to commit your change:

        $ git commit -m 'bump version to RCnnn' patchlevel.h
  • Build perl, then make sure it passes its own test suite, and installs:

        $ git clean -xdf
        $ ./Configure -des -Dusedevel -Dprefix=/tmp/perl-5.x.y-pretest
        $ make test install
  • Check that the output of perl -v and perl -V are as expected, especially as regards version numbers, patch and/or RC levels, and @INC paths.

  • Push all your recent commits:

        $ git push origin ....
  • Create a tarball. Use the -s option to specify a suitable suffix for the tarball and directory name:

        $ cd root/of/perl/tree
        $ make distclean
        $ git clean -xdf            #  make sure perl and git agree on files
        $ perl Porting/makerel -b -s `git describe` # for a snapshot
        $ perl Porting/makerel -b -s RC1            # for a release candidate
        $ perl Porting/makerel -b                   # for a final release

    This creates the directory ../perl-x.y.z-RC1 or similar, copies all the MANIFEST files into it, sets the correct permissions on them, adds DOS line endings to some, then tars it up as ../perl-x.y.z-RC1.tar.gz. With -b, it also creates a tar.bz2 file.

    XXX if we go for extra tags and branches stuff, then add the extra details here

  • Copy the tarballs (.gz and possibly .bz2) to a web server somewhere you have access to.

  • Download the tarball to some other machine. For a release candidate, you really want to test your tarball on two or more different platforms and architectures. The #p5p IRC channel on irc.perl.org is a good place to find willing victims.

  • Check that basic configuration and tests work on each test machine:

        $ ./Configure -des && make all test
  • Check that the test harness and install work on each test machine:

        $ ./Configure -des -Dprefix=/install/path && make all test_harness install
  • Check that the output of perl -v and perl -V are as expected, especially as regards version numbers, patch and/or RC levels, and @INC paths.

    Note that the results may be different without a .git/ directory, which is why you should test from the tarball.

  • Bootstrap the CPAN client on the clean install:

        $ ./bin/perl -MCPAN -e'shell' 
  • Install Inline.pm

        $ ./bin/perl -MCPAN -e'install Inline'

    Check that your perl can run this:

        $ ./bin/perl -lwe 'use Inline C => "int answer() { return 42;} "; print answer'
  • Bootstrap the CPANPLUS client on the clean install:

        $ ./bin/cpanp
  • Install an XS module.

  • If all is well, announce the snapshot to p5p. (For a release candidate, instead follow the further steps described later.)

  • You MAY SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Wait for the smoke tests to catch up with the commit which this release is based on (or at least the last commit of any consequence).

    Then check that the smoke tests pass (particularly on Win32). If not, go back and fix things.

  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Once smoking is okay, upload it to PAUSE. This is the point of no return. If anything goes wrong after this point, you will need to re-prepare a new release with a new minor version or RC number.

    You may wish to create a .bz2 version of the tarball and upload that too.

  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Create a tag for the exact git revision you built the release from. commit below is the commit corresponding to the tarball. It can be omitted if there have been no further commits since the tarball was created.

        $ git tag perl-5.10.1-RC1 -m'Release Candidate 1 of Perl 5.10.1' <commit>
        $ git push origin tag perl-5.10.1-RC1
  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Disarm the patchlevel.h change; for example,

         static const char * const local_patches[] = {
        -        ,"RC1"
                 PERL_GIT_UNPUSHED_COMMITS /* do not remove this line */

    Be sure to commit your change:

        $ git commit -m 'disarm RCnnn bump' patchlevel.h
  • Mail p5p to announce your new release, with a quote you prepared earlier.

  • You MAY SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Wait 24 hours or so, then post the announcement to use.perl.org. (if you don't have access rights to post news, ask someone like Rafael to do it for you.)

  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT, RC, BLEAD

    Ask Jarkko to update http://www.cpan.org/src/README.html and Rafael to update http://dev.perl.org/perl5/

  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT, RC

    Create a new empty perlNNNdelta.pod file for the current release + 1; see Porting/how_to_write_a_perldelta.pod. [ XXX Perhaps we should have an empty template file we can copy in. ]

    In addition, edit pod.lst, adding the new entry as 'D', and unmark previous entry as 'D',

    Change perlNNNdelta references to the new version in these files


    Also, edit the previous delta file to change the NAME from perldelta to perlNNNdelta.

    These two lists of files probably aren't exhaustive; do a recursive grep on the previous filename to look for suitable candidates.

    (see 16410843ea for an example).

  • Run perl pod/buildtoc --build-all to update the following files:


    If you modified perldelta.pod, (vms/descrip_mms.template will needs a manual edit to bump the perldelta.pod entry - it would be good for someone to figure out the fix.)

  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT, RC, BLEAD

    If this was a maint release, then edit Porting/mergelog to change all the d (deferred) flags to . (needs review).

  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT, RC, BLEAD

    If this was a major release (5.x.0), then create a new maint branch based on the commit tagged as the current release and bump the version in the blead branch in git, e.g. 5.12.0 to 5.13.0.

    [ XXX probably lots more stuff to do, including perldelta, lib/feature.pm ]

    XXX need a git recipe

  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT, RC, BLEAD

    Copy the perlNNNdelta.pod for this release into the other branches, and remember to update these files on those branches too:


    (see fc5be80860 for an example).

  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT

    Make sure any recent pod/perlhist.pod entries are copied to perlhist.pod on other branches; typically the RC* and final entries, e.g.

              5.8.9-RC1     2008-Nov-10
              5.8.9-RC2     2008-Dec-06
              5.8.9         2008-Dec-14
  • You MUST SKIP this step for SNAPSHOT, RC

    Remind the current maintainer of Module::CoreList to push a new release to CPAN.

  • You MUST RETIRE to your preferred PUB, CAFE or SEASIDE VILLA for some much-needed rest and relaxation.

    Thanks for releasing perl!


Based on http://www.xray.mpe.mpg.de/mailing-lists/perl5-porters/2009-05/msg00608.html, plus a whole bunch of other sources, including private correspondence.

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