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       perl583delta - what is new for perl v5.8.3


       This document describes differences between the 5.8.2 release and the 5.8.3 release.

       If you are upgrading from an earlier release such as 5.6.1, first read the perl58delta,
       which describes differences between 5.6.0 and 5.8.0, and the perl581delta and
       perl582delta, which describe differences between 5.8.0, 5.8.1 and 5.8.2

Incompatible Changes

       There are no changes incompatible with 5.8.2.

Core Enhancements

       A "SCALAR" method is now available for tied hashes. This is called when a tied hash is
       used in scalar context, such as

           if (%tied_hash) {

       The old behaviour was that %tied_hash would return whatever would have been returned for
       that hash before the hash was tied (so usually 0). The new behaviour in the absence of a
       SCALAR method is to return TRUE if in the middle of an "each" iteration, and otherwise
       call FIRSTKEY to check if the hash is empty (making sure that a subsequent "each" will
       also begin by calling FIRSTKEY). Please see "SCALAR" in perltie for the full details and

Modules and Pragmata

           A function "again" is provided to resolve problems where modules in different
           directories wish to use FindBin.

           You can now weaken references to read only values.

           "cond_wait" has a new two argument form. "cond_timedwait" has been added.

Utility Changes

       "find2perl" now assumes "-print" as a default action. Previously, it needed to be
       specified explicitly.

       A new utility, "prove", makes it easy to run an individual regression test at the command
       line. "prove" is part of Test::Harness, which users of earlier Perl versions can install
       from CPAN.

New Documentation

       The documentation has been revised in places to produce more standard manpages.

       The documentation for the special code blocks (BEGIN, CHECK, INIT, END) has been improved.

Installation and Configuration Improvements

       Perl now builds on OpenVMS I64

Selected Bug Fixes

       Using substr() on a UTF8 string could cause subsequent accesses on that string to return
       garbage. This was due to incorrect UTF8 offsets being cached, and is now fixed.

       join() could return garbage when the same join() statement was used to process 8 bit data
       having earlier processed UTF8 data, due to the flags on that statement's temporary
       workspace not being reset correctly. This is now fixed.

       "$a .. $b" will now work as expected when either $a or $b is "undef"

       Using Unicode keys with tied hashes should now work correctly.

       Reading $^E now preserves $!. Previously, the C code implementing $^E did not preserve
       "errno", so reading $^E could cause "errno" and therefore $! to change unexpectedly.

       Reentrant functions will (once more) work with C++. 5.8.2 introduced a bugfix which
       accidentally broke the compilation of Perl extensions written in C++

New or Changed Diagnostics

       The fatal error "DESTROY created new reference to dead object" is now documented in

Changed Internals

       The hash code has been refactored to reduce source duplication. The external interface is
       unchanged, and aside from the bug fixes described above, there should be no change in

       "hv_clear_placeholders" is now part of the perl API

       Some C macros have been tidied. In particular macros which create temporary local
       variables now name these variables more defensively, which should avoid bugs where names

       <signal.h> is now always included.

Configuration and Building

       "Configure" now invokes callbacks regardless of the value of the variable they are called
       for. Previously callbacks were only invoked in the "case $variable $define)" branch. This
       change should only affect platform maintainers writing configuration hints files.

Platform Specific Problems

       The regression test ext/threads/shared/t/wait.t fails on early RedHat 9 and HP-UX 10.20
       due to bugs in their threading implementations.  RedHat users should see and consider upgrading their glibc.

Known Problems

       Detached threads aren't supported on Windows yet, as they may lead to memory access
       violation problems.

       There is a known race condition opening scripts in "suidperl". "suidperl" is neither built
       nor installed by default, and has been deprecated since perl 5.8.0. You are advised to
       replace use of suidperl with tools such as sudo ( )

       We have a backlog of unresolved bugs. Dealing with bugs and bug reports is unglamorous
       work; not something ideally suited to volunteer labour, but that is all that we have.

       The perl5 development team are implementing changes to help address this problem, which
       should go live in early 2004.

Future Directions

       Code freeze for the next maintenance release (5.8.4) is on March 31st 2004, with release
       expected by mid April. Similarly 5.8.5's freeze will be at the end of June, with release
       by mid July.


       Iain 'Spoon' Truskett, Perl hacker, author of perlreref and contributor to CPAN, died
       suddenly on 29th December 2003, aged 24.  He will be missed.

Reporting Bugs

       If you find what you think is a bug, you might check the articles recently posted to the
       comp.lang.perl.misc newsgroup and the perl bug database at  There
       may also be information at, the Perl Home Page.

       If you believe you have an unreported bug, please run the perlbug program included with
       your release.  Be sure to trim your bug down to a tiny but sufficient test case.  Your bug
       report, along with the output of "perl -V", will be sent off to to be
       analysed by the Perl porting team.  You can browse and search the Perl 5 bugs at


       The Changes file for exhaustive details on what changed.

       The INSTALL file for how to build Perl.

       The README file for general stuff.

       The Artistic and Copying files for copyright information.