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Gurusamy Sarathy


perlmodinstall - Installing CPAN Modules


You can think of a module as the fundamental unit of reusable Perl code; See perlmod for details. Whenever anyone creates a chunk of Perl code that they think will be useful to the world, they register as a Perl developer at http://www.perl.com/CPAN/modules/04pause.html so that they can then upload their code to CPAN. CPAN is the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network and can be accessed at http://www.perl.com/CPAN/, or searched via http://cpan.perl.com/ and http://theory.uwinnipeg.ca/mod_perl/cpan-search.pl .

This documentation is for people who want to download CPAN modules and install them on their own computer.


You have a file ending in .tar.gz (or, less often, .zip). You know there's a tasty module inside. You must now take four steps:

UNPACK the file into a directory
BUILD the module (sometimes unnecessary)
INSTALL the module.

Here's how to perform each step for each operating system. This is not a substitute for reading the README and INSTALL files that might have come with your module!

Also note that these instructions are tailored for installing the module into your system's repository of Perl modules. But you can install modules into any directory you wish. For instance, where I say perl Makefile.PL, you can substitute perl Makefile.PL PREFIX=/my/perl_directory to install the modules into /my/perl_directory. Then you can use the modules from your Perl programs with use lib "/my/perl_directory/lib/site_perl" or sometimes just use "/my/perl_directory".

  • If you're on Unix,

    You can use Andreas Koenig's CPAN module (which comes standard with Perl, or can itself be downloaded from http://www.perl.com/CPAN/modules/by-module/CPAN) to automate the following steps, from DECOMPRESS through INSTALL.


    Decompress the file with gzip -d yourmodule.tar.gz

    You can get gzip from ftp://prep.ai.mit.edu/pub/gnu.

    Or, you can combine this step with the next to save disk space:

         gzip -dc yourmodule.tar.gz | tar -xof -


    Unpack the result with tar -xof yourmodule.tar

    C. BUILD

    Go into the newly-created directory and type:

          perl Makefile.PL
          make test


    While still in that directory, type:

          make install

    Make sure you have appropriate permissions to install the module in your Perl 5 library directory. Often, you'll need to be root.

    Perl maintains a record of all module installations. To look at this list, simply type:

          perldoc perllocal

    That's all you need to do on Unix systems with dynamic linking. Most Unix systems have dynamic linking--if yours doesn't, or if for another reason you have a statically-linked perl, and the module requires compilation, you'll need to build a new Perl binary that includes the module. Again, you'll probably need to be root.

  • If you're running Windows 95 or NT with the ActiveState port of Perl


    You can use the shareware Winzip program ( http://www.winzip.com ) to decompress and unpack modules.

       B. UNPACK

    If you used WinZip, this was already done for you.

       C. BUILD

    Does the module require compilation (i.e. does it have files that end in .xs, .c, .h, .y, .cc, .cxx, or .C)? If it does, you're on your own. You can try compiling it yourself if you have a C compiler. If you're successful, consider uploading the resulting binary to CPAN for others to use. If it doesn't, go to INSTALL.

       D. INSTALL

    Copy the module into your Perl's lib directory. That'll be one of the directories you see when you type

       perl -e 'print "@INC"'
  • If you're running Windows 95 or NT with the core Windows distribution of Perl,


    When you download the module, make sure it ends in either .tar.gz or .zip. Windows browsers sometimes download .tar.gz files as _tar.tar, because early versions of Windows prohibited more than one dot in a filename.

    You can use the shareware WinZip program ( http://www.winzip.com ) to decompress and unpack modules.

    Or, you can use InfoZip's unzip utility ( http://www.cdrom.com/pub/infozip/ ) to uncompress .zip files; type unzip yourmodule.zip in your shell.

    Or, if you have a working tar and gzip, you can type

       gzip -cd yourmodule.tar.gz | tar xvf -

    in the shell to decompress yourmodule.tar.gz. This will UNPACK your module as well.

       B. UNPACK

    The methods in DECOMPRESS will have done this for you.

       C. BUILD

    Go into the newly-created directory and type:

          perl Makefile.PL
          dmake test

    Depending on your perl configuration, dmake might not be available. You might have to substitute whatever perl -V:make says. (Usually, that will be nmake or make.)

       D. INSTALL

    While still in that directory, type:

          dmake install
  • If you're using a Macintosh,


    First thing you should do is make sure you have the latest cpan-mac distribution ( http://www.cpan.org/authors/id/CNANDOR/ ), which has utilities for doing all of the steps. Read the cpan-mac directions carefully and install it. If you choose not to use cpan-mac for some reason, there are alternatives listed here.

    After installing cpan-mac, drop the module archive on the untarzipme droplet, which will decompress and unpack for you.

    Or, you can either use the shareware StuffIt Expander program ( http://www.aladdinsys.com/expander/ ) in combination with DropStuff with Expander Enhancer ( http://www.aladdinsys.com/dropstuff/ ) or the freeware MacGzip program ( http://persephone.cps.unizar.es/general/gente/spd/gzip/gzip.html ).


    If you're using untarzipme or StuffIt, the archive should be extracted now. Or, you can use the freeware suntar or Tar ( http://hyperarchive.lcs.mit.edu/HyperArchive/Archive/cmp/ ).

    C. BUILD

    Check the contents of the distribution. Read the module's documentation, looking for reasons why you might have trouble using it with MacPerl. Look for .xs and .c files, which normally denote that the distribution must be compiled, and you cannot install it "out of the box." (See "PORTABILITY".)

    If a module does not work on MacPerl but should, or needs to be compiled, see if the module exists already as a port on the MacPerl Module Porters site (http://pudge.net/mmp/). For more information on doing XS with MacPerl yourself, see Arved Sandstrom's XS tutorial (http://macperl.com/depts/Tutorials/), and then consider uploading your binary to the CPAN and registering it on the MMP site.


    If you are using cpan-mac, just drop the folder on the installme droplet, and use the module.

    Or, if you aren't using cpan-mac, do some manual labor.

    Make sure the newlines for the modules are in Mac format, not Unix format. If they are not then you might have decompressed them incorrectly. Check your decompression and unpacking utilities settings to make sure they are translating text files properly.

    As a last resort, you can use the perl one-liner:

        perl -i.bak -pe 's/(?:\015)?\012/\015/g' <filenames>

    on the source files.

    Then move the files (probably just the .pm files, though there may be some additional ones, too; check the module documentation) to their final destination: This will most likely be in $ENV{MACPERL}site_lib: (i.e., HD:MacPerl folder:site_lib:). You can add new paths to the default @INC in the Preferences menu item in the MacPerl application ($ENV{MACPERL}site_lib: is added automagically). Create whatever directory structures are required (i.e., for Some::Module, create $ENV{MACPERL}site_lib:Some: and put Module.pm in that directory).

    Then run the following script (or something like it):

         #!perl -w
         use AutoSplit;
         my $dir = "${MACPERL}site_perl";
         autosplit("$dir:Some:Module.pm", "$dir:auto", 0, 1, 1);
  • If you're on the DJGPP port of DOS,


    djtarx ( ftp://ftp.simtel.net/pub/simtelnet/gnu/djgpp/v2/ ) will both uncompress and unpack.

       B. UNPACK

    See above.

       C. BUILD

    Go into the newly-created directory and type:

          perl Makefile.PL
          make test

    You will need the packages mentioned in README.dos in the Perl distribution.

       D. INSTALL

    While still in that directory, type:

         make install

    You will need the packages mentioned in README.dos in the Perl distribution.

  • If you're on OS/2,

    Get the EMX development suite and gzip/tar, from either Hobbes ( http://hobbes.nmsu.edu ) or Leo ( http://www.leo.org ), and then follow the instructions for Unix.

  • If you're on VMS,

    When downloading from CPAN, save your file with a .tgz extension instead of .tar.gz. All other periods in the filename should be replaced with underscores. For example, Your-Module-1.33.tar.gz should be downloaded as Your-Module-1_33.tgz.



        gzip -d Your-Module.tgz

    or, for zipped modules, type

        unzip Your-Module.zip

    Executables for gzip, zip, and VMStar ( Alphas: http://www.openvms.digital.com/freeware/000TOOLS/ALPHA/ and Vaxen: http://www.openvms.digital.com/freeware/000TOOLS/VAX/ ).

    gzip and tar are also available at ftp://ftp.digital.com/pub/VMS.

    Note that GNU's gzip/gunzip is not the same as Info-ZIP's zip/unzip package. The former is a simple compression tool; the latter permits creation of multi-file archives.


    If you're using VMStar:

         VMStar xf Your-Module.tar

    Or, if you're fond of VMS command syntax:

         tar/extract/verbose Your_Module.tar

    C. BUILD

    Make sure you have MMS (from Digital) or the freeware MMK ( available from MadGoat at http://www.madgoat.com ). Then type this to create the DESCRIP.MMS for the module:

        perl Makefile.PL

    Now you're ready to build:

        mms test

    Substitute mmk for mms above if you're using MMK.



        mms install

    Substitute mmk for mms above if you're using MMK.

  • If you're on MVS,

    Introduce the .tar.gz file into an HFS as binary; don't translate from ASCII to EBCDIC.


          Decompress the file with C<gzip -d yourmodule.tar.gz>
          You can get gzip from


    Unpack the result with

         pax -o to=IBM-1047,from=ISO8859-1 -r < yourmodule.tar

    The BUILD and INSTALL steps are identical to those for Unix. Some modules generate Makefiles that work better with GNU make, which is available from http://www.mks.com/s390/gnu/index.htm.


Note that not all modules will work with on all platforms. See perlport for more information on portability issues. Read the documentation to see if the module will work on your system. There are basically three categories of modules that will not work "out of the box" with all platforms (with some possibility of overlap):

  • Those that should, but don't. These need to be fixed; consider contacting the author and possibly writing a patch.

  • Those that need to be compiled, where the target platform doesn't have compilers readily available. (These modules contain .xs or .c files, usually.) You might be able to find existing binaries on the CPAN or elsewhere, or you might want to try getting compilers and building it yourself, and then release the binary for other poor souls to use.

  • Those that are targeted at a specific platform. (Such as the Win32:: modules.) If the module is targeted specifically at a platform other than yours, you're out of luck, most likely.

Check the CPAN Testers if a module should work with your platform but it doesn't behave as you'd expect, or you aren't sure whether or not a module will work under your platform. If the module you want isn't listed there, you can test it yourself and let CPAN Testers know, you can join CPAN Testers, or you can request it be tested.



If you have any suggested changes for this page, let me know. Please don't send me mail asking for help on how to install your modules. There are too many modules, and too few Orwants, for me to be able to answer or even acknowledge all your questions. Contact the module author instead, or post to comp.lang.perl.modules, or ask someone familiar with Perl on your operating system.


Jon Orwant


The Perl Journal, http://tpj.com

with invaluable help from Brandon Allbery, Charles Bailey, Graham Barr, Dominic Dunlop, Jarkko Hietaniemi, Ben Holzman, Tom Horsley, Nick Ing-Simmons, Tuomas J. Lukka, Laszlo Molnar, Chris Nandor, Alan Olsen, Peter Prymmer, Gurusamy Sarathy, Christoph Spalinger, Dan Sugalski, Larry Virden, and Ilya Zakharevich.

First version July 22, 1998

Last Modified August 22, 2000


Copyright (C) 1998, 2000 Jon Orwant. All Rights Reserved.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this documentation provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this documentation under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided also that they are marked clearly as modified versions, that the authors' names and title are unchanged (though subtitles and additional authors' names may be added), and that the entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a permission notice identical to this one.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this documentation into another language, under the above conditions for modified versions.