Provided by: perl-doc_5.14.2-6ubuntu2_all bug


       perlfaq8 - System Interaction


       This section of the Perl FAQ covers questions involving operating system interaction.
       Topics include interprocess communication (IPC), control over the user-interface
       (keyboard, screen and pointing devices), and most anything else not related to data

       Read the FAQs and documentation specific to the port of perl to your operating system (eg,
       perlvms, perlplan9, ...).  These should contain more detailed information on the vagaries
       of your perl.

   How do I find out which operating system I'm running under?
       The $^O variable ($OSNAME if you use "English") contains an indication of the name of the
       operating system (not its release number) that your perl binary was built for.

   How come exec() doesn't return?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       The "exec" function's job is to turn your process into another command and never to
       return. If that's not what you want to do, don't use "exec". :)

       If you want to run an external command and still keep your Perl process going, look at a
       piped "open", "fork", or "system".

   How do I do fancy stuff with the keyboard/screen/mouse?
       How you access/control keyboards, screens, and pointing devices ("mice") is system-
       dependent.  Try the following modules:

                   Term::Cap               Standard perl distribution
                   Term::ReadKey           CPAN
                   Term::ReadLine::Gnu     CPAN
                   Term::ReadLine::Perl    CPAN
                   Term::Screen            CPAN

                   Term::Cap               Standard perl distribution
                   Curses                  CPAN
                   Term::ANSIColor         CPAN

                   Tk                      CPAN

       Some of these specific cases are shown as examples in other answers in this section of the

   How do I print something out in color?
       In general, you don't, because you don't know whether the recipient has a color-aware
       display device.  If you know that they have an ANSI terminal that understands color, you
       can use the "Term::ANSIColor" module from CPAN:

               use Term::ANSIColor;
               print color("red"), "Stop!\n", color("reset");
               print color("green"), "Go!\n", color("reset");

       Or like this:

               use Term::ANSIColor qw(:constants);
               print RED, "Stop!\n", RESET;
               print GREEN, "Go!\n", RESET;

   How do I read just one key without waiting for a return key?
       Controlling input buffering is a remarkably system-dependent matter.  On many systems, you
       can just use the stty command as shown in "getc" in perlfunc, but as you see, that's
       already getting you into portability snags.

               open(TTY, "+</dev/tty") or die "no tty: $!";
               system "stty  cbreak </dev/tty >/dev/tty 2>&1";
               $key = getc(TTY);               # perhaps this works
               # OR ELSE
               sysread(TTY, $key, 1);  # probably this does
               system "stty -cbreak </dev/tty >/dev/tty 2>&1";

       The "Term::ReadKey" module from CPAN offers an easy-to-use interface that should be more
       efficient than shelling out to stty for each key.  It even includes limited support for

               use Term::ReadKey;
               $key = ReadKey(0);

       However, using the code requires that you have a working C compiler and can use it to
       build and install a CPAN module.  Here's a solution using the standard "POSIX" module,
       which is already on your system (assuming your system supports POSIX).

               use HotKey;
               $key = readkey();

       And here's the "HotKey" module, which hides the somewhat mystifying calls to manipulate
       the POSIX termios structures.

               package HotKey;

               @ISA = qw(Exporter);
               @EXPORT = qw(cbreak cooked readkey);

               use strict;
               use POSIX qw(:termios_h);
               my ($term, $oterm, $echo, $noecho, $fd_stdin);

               $fd_stdin = fileno(STDIN);
               $term     = POSIX::Termios->new();
               $oterm     = $term->getlflag();

               $echo     = ECHO | ECHOK | ICANON;
               $noecho   = $oterm & ~$echo;

               sub cbreak {
                       $term->setlflag($noecho);  # ok, so i don't want echo either
                       $term->setcc(VTIME, 1);
                       $term->setattr($fd_stdin, TCSANOW);

               sub cooked {
                       $term->setcc(VTIME, 0);
                       $term->setattr($fd_stdin, TCSANOW);

               sub readkey {
                       my $key = '';
                       sysread(STDIN, $key, 1);
                       return $key;

               END { cooked() }


   How do I check whether input is ready on the keyboard?
       The easiest way to do this is to read a key in nonblocking mode with the "Term::ReadKey"
       module from CPAN, passing it an argument of -1 to indicate not to block:

               use Term::ReadKey;


               if (defined ($char = ReadKey(-1)) ) {
                       # input was waiting and it was $char
               } else {
                       # no input was waiting

               ReadMode('normal');                  # restore normal tty settings

   How do I clear the screen?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       To clear the screen, you just have to print the special sequence that tells the terminal
       to clear the screen. Once you have that sequence, output it when you want to clear the

       You can use the "Term::ANSIScreen" module to get the special sequence. Import the "cls"
       function (or the ":screen" tag):

               use Term::ANSIScreen qw(cls);
               my $clear_screen = cls();

               print $clear_screen;

       The "Term::Cap" module can also get the special sequence if you want to deal with the low-
       level details of terminal control. The "Tputs" method returns the string for the given

               use Term::Cap;

               $terminal = Term::Cap->Tgetent( { OSPEED => 9600 } );
               $clear_string = $terminal->Tputs('cl');

               print $clear_screen;

       On Windows, you can use the "Win32::Console" module. After creating an object for the
       output filehandle you want to affect, call the "Cls" method:


               $OUT = Win32::Console->new(STD_OUTPUT_HANDLE);
               my $clear_string = $OUT->Cls;

               print $clear_screen;

       If you have a command-line program that does the job, you can call it in backticks to
       capture whatever it outputs so you can use it later:

               $clear_string = `clear`;

               print $clear_string;

   How do I get the screen size?
       If you have "Term::ReadKey" module installed from CPAN, you can use it to fetch the width
       and height in characters and in pixels:

               use Term::ReadKey;
               ($wchar, $hchar, $wpixels, $hpixels) = GetTerminalSize();

       This is more portable than the raw "ioctl", but not as illustrative:

               require 'sys/';
               die "no TIOCGWINSZ " unless defined &TIOCGWINSZ;
               open(TTY, "+</dev/tty")                     or die "No tty: $!";
               unless (ioctl(TTY, &TIOCGWINSZ, $winsize='')) {
                       die sprintf "$0: ioctl TIOCGWINSZ (%08x: $!)\n", &TIOCGWINSZ;
               ($row, $col, $xpixel, $ypixel) = unpack('S4', $winsize);
               print "(row,col) = ($row,$col)";
               print "  (xpixel,ypixel) = ($xpixel,$ypixel)" if $xpixel || $ypixel;
               print "\n";

   How do I ask the user for a password?
       (This question has nothing to do with the web.  See a different FAQ for that.)

       There's an example of this in "crypt" in perlfunc).  First, you put the terminal into "no
       echo" mode, then just read the password normally.  You may do this with an old-style
       "ioctl()" function, POSIX terminal control (see POSIX or its documentation the Camel
       Book), or a call to the stty program, with varying degrees of portability.

       You can also do this for most systems using the "Term::ReadKey" module from CPAN, which is
       easier to use and in theory more portable.

               use Term::ReadKey;

               $password = ReadLine(0);

   How do I read and write the serial port?
       This depends on which operating system your program is running on.  In the case of Unix,
       the serial ports will be accessible through files in /dev; on other systems, device names
       will doubtless differ.  Several problem areas common to all device interaction are the

           Your system may use lockfiles to control multiple access.  Make sure you follow the
           correct protocol.  Unpredictable behavior can result from multiple processes reading
           from one device.

       open mode
           If you expect to use both read and write operations on the device, you'll have to open
           it for update (see "open" in perlfunc for details).  You may wish to open it without
           running the risk of blocking by using "sysopen()" and "O_RDWR|O_NDELAY|O_NOCTTY" from
           the "Fcntl" module (part of the standard perl distribution).  See "sysopen" in
           perlfunc for more on this approach.

       end of line
           Some devices will be expecting a "\r" at the end of each line rather than a "\n".  In
           some ports of perl, "\r" and "\n" are different from their usual (Unix) ASCII values
           of "\015" and "\012".  You may have to give the numeric values you want directly,
           using octal ("\015"), hex ("0x0D"), or as a control-character specification ("\cM").

                   print DEV "atv1\012";   # wrong, for some devices
                   print DEV "atv1\015";   # right, for some devices

           Even though with normal text files a "\n" will do the trick, there is still no unified
           scheme for terminating a line that is portable between Unix, DOS/Win, and Macintosh,
           except to terminate ALL line ends with "\015\012", and strip what you don't need from
           the output.  This applies especially to socket I/O and autoflushing, discussed next.

       flushing output
           If you expect characters to get to your device when you "print()" them, you'll want to
           autoflush that filehandle.  You can use "select()" and the $| variable to control
           autoflushing (see "$|" in perlvar and "select" in perlfunc, or perlfaq5, "How do I
           flush/unbuffer an output filehandle?  Why must I do this?"):

                   $oldh = select(DEV);
                   $| = 1;

           You'll also see code that does this without a temporary variable, as in

                   select((select(DEV), $| = 1)[0]);

           Or if you don't mind pulling in a few thousand lines of code just because you're
           afraid of a little $| variable:

                   use IO::Handle;

           As mentioned in the previous item, this still doesn't work when using socket I/O
           between Unix and Macintosh.  You'll need to hard code your line terminators, in that

       non-blocking input
           If you are doing a blocking "read()" or "sysread()", you'll have to arrange for an
           alarm handler to provide a timeout (see "alarm" in perlfunc).  If you have a non-
           blocking open, you'll likely have a non-blocking read, which means you may have to use
           a 4-arg "select()" to determine whether I/O is ready on that device (see "select" in

       While trying to read from his caller-id box, the notorious Jamie Zawinski
       "<>", after much gnashing of teeth and fighting with "sysread", "sysopen",
       POSIX's "tcgetattr" business, and various other functions that go bump in the night,
       finally came up with this:

               sub open_modem {
                       use IPC::Open2;
                       my $stty = `/bin/stty -g`;
                       open2( \*MODEM_IN, \*MODEM_OUT, "cu -l$modem_device -s2400 2>&1");
                       # starting cu hoses /dev/tty's stty settings, even when it has
                       # been opened on a pipe...
                       system("/bin/stty $stty");
                       $_ = <MODEM_IN>;
                       if ( !m/^Connected/ ) {
                               print STDERR "$0: cu printed `$_' instead of `Connected'\n";

   How do I decode encrypted password files?
       You spend lots and lots of money on dedicated hardware, but this is bound to get you
       talked about.

       Seriously, you can't if they are Unix password files--the Unix password system employs
       one-way encryption.  It's more like hashing than encryption.  The best you can do is check
       whether something else hashes to the same string.  You can't turn a hash back into the
       original string. Programs like Crack can forcibly (and intelligently) try to guess
       passwords, but don't (can't) guarantee quick success.

       If you're worried about users selecting bad passwords, you should proactively check when
       they try to change their password (by modifying passwd(1), for example).

   How do I start a process in the background?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       There's not a single way to run code in the background so you don't have to wait for it to
       finish before your program moves on to other tasks. Process management depends on your
       particular operating system, and many of the techniques are in perlipc.

       Several CPAN modules may be able to help, including "IPC::Open2" or "IPC::Open3",
       "IPC::Run", "Parallel::Jobs", "Parallel::ForkManager", "POE", "Proc::Background", and
       "Win32::Process". There are many other modules you might use, so check those namespaces
       for other options too.

       If you are on a Unix-like system, you might be able to get away with a system call where
       you put an "&" on the end of the command:

               system("cmd &")

       You can also try using "fork", as described in perlfunc (although this is the same thing
       that many of the modules will do for you).

       STDIN, STDOUT, and STDERR are shared
           Both the main process and the backgrounded one (the "child" process) share the same
           STDIN, STDOUT and STDERR filehandles.  If both try to access them at once, strange
           things can happen.  You may want to close or reopen these for the child.  You can get
           around this with "open"ing a pipe (see "open" in perlfunc) but on some systems this
           means that the child process cannot outlive the parent.

           You'll have to catch the SIGCHLD signal, and possibly SIGPIPE too.  SIGCHLD is sent
           when the backgrounded process finishes.  SIGPIPE is sent when you write to a
           filehandle whose child process has closed (an untrapped SIGPIPE can cause your program
           to silently die).  This is not an issue with "system("cmd&")".

           You have to be prepared to "reap" the child process when it finishes.

                   $SIG{CHLD} = sub { wait };

                   $SIG{CHLD} = 'IGNORE';

           You can also use a double fork. You immediately "wait()" for your first child, and the
           init daemon will "wait()" for your grandchild once it exits.

                   unless ($pid = fork) {
                       unless (fork) {
                           exec "what you really wanna do";
                           die "exec failed!";
                       exit 0;
                   waitpid($pid, 0);

           See "Signals" in perlipc for other examples of code to do this.  Zombies are not an
           issue with "system("prog &")".

   How do I trap control characters/signals?
       You don't actually "trap" a control character.  Instead, that character generates a signal
       which is sent to your terminal's currently foregrounded process group, which you then trap
       in your process.  Signals are documented in "Signals" in perlipc and the section on
       "Signals" in the Camel.

       You can set the values of the %SIG hash to be the functions you want to handle the signal.
       After perl catches the signal, it looks in %SIG for a key with the same name as the
       signal, then calls the subroutine value for that key.

               # as an anonymous subroutine

               $SIG{INT} = sub { syswrite(STDERR, "ouch\n", 5 ) };

               # or a reference to a function

               $SIG{INT} = \&ouch;

               # or the name of the function as a string

               $SIG{INT} = "ouch";

       Perl versions before 5.8 had in its C source code signal handlers which would catch the
       signal and possibly run a Perl function that you had set in %SIG.  This violated the rules
       of signal handling at that level causing perl to dump core. Since version 5.8.0, perl
       looks at %SIG after the signal has been caught, rather than while it is being caught.
       Previous versions of this answer were incorrect.

   How do I modify the shadow password file on a Unix system?
       If perl was installed correctly and your shadow library was written properly, the
       "getpw*()" functions described in perlfunc should in theory provide (read-only) access to
       entries in the shadow password file.  To change the file, make a new shadow password file
       (the format varies from system to system--see passwd for specifics) and use pwd_mkdb(8) to
       install it (see pwd_mkdb for more details).

   How do I set the time and date?
       Assuming you're running under sufficient permissions, you should be able to set the
       system-wide date and time by running the date(1) program.  (There is no way to set the
       time and date on a per-process basis.)  This mechanism will work for Unix, MS-DOS,
       Windows, and NT; the VMS equivalent is "set time".

       However, if all you want to do is change your time zone, you can probably get away with
       setting an environment variable:

               $ENV{TZ} = "MST7MDT";              # Unixish
               $ENV{'SYS$TIMEZONE_DIFFERENTIAL'}="-5" # vms
               system "trn comp.lang.perl.misc";

   How can I sleep() or alarm() for under a second?
       If you want finer granularity than the 1 second that the "sleep()" function provides, the
       easiest way is to use the "select()" function as documented in "select" in perlfunc.  Try
       the "Time::HiRes" and the "BSD::Itimer" modules (available from CPAN, and starting from
       Perl 5.8 "Time::HiRes" is part of the standard distribution).

   How can I measure time under a second?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       The "Time::HiRes" module (part of the standard distribution as of Perl 5.8) measures time
       with the "gettimeofday()" system call, which returns the time in microseconds since the
       epoch. If you can't install "Time::HiRes" for older Perls and you are on a Unixish system,
       you may be able to call gettimeofday(2) directly. See "syscall" in perlfunc.

   How can I do an atexit() or setjmp()/longjmp()? (Exception handling)
       You can use the "END" block to simulate "atexit()". Each package's "END" block is called
       when the program or thread ends. See the perlmod manpage for more details about "END"

       For example, you can use this to make sure your filter program managed to finish its
       output without filling up the disk:

               END {
                       close(STDOUT) || die "stdout close failed: $!";

       The "END" block isn't called when untrapped signals kill the program, though, so if you
       use "END" blocks you should also use

               use sigtrap qw(die normal-signals);

       Perl's exception-handling mechanism is its "eval()" operator.  You can use "eval()" as
       "setjmp" and "die()" as "longjmp". For details of this, see the section on signals,
       especially the time-out handler for a blocking "flock()" in "Signals" in perlipc or the
       section on "Signals" in Programming Perl.

       If exception handling is all you're interested in, use one of the many CPAN modules that
       handle exceptions, such as "Try::Tiny".

       If you want the "atexit()" syntax (and an "rmexit()" as well), try the "AtExit" module
       available from CPAN.

   Why doesn't my sockets program work under System V (Solaris)?  What does the error message
       "Protocol not supported" mean?
       Some Sys-V based systems, notably Solaris 2.X, redefined some of the standard socket
       constants.  Since these were constant across all architectures, they were often hardwired
       into perl code.  The proper way to deal with this is to "use Socket" to get the correct

       Note that even though SunOS and Solaris are binary compatible, these values are different.
       Go figure.

   How can I call my system's unique C functions from Perl?
       In most cases, you write an external module to do it--see the answer to "Where can I learn
       about linking C with Perl? [h2xs, xsubpp]".  However, if the function is a system call,
       and your system supports "syscall()", you can use the "syscall" function (documented in

       Remember to check the modules that came with your distribution, and CPAN as well--someone
       may already have written a module to do it. On Windows, try "Win32::API".  On Macs, try
       "Mac::Carbon".  If no module has an interface to the C function, you can inline a bit of C
       in your Perl source with "Inline::C".

   Where do I get the include files to do ioctl() or syscall()?
       Historically, these would be generated by the "h2ph" tool, part of the standard perl
       distribution.  This program converts cpp(1) directives in C header files to files
       containing subroutine definitions, like &SYS_getitimer, which you can use as arguments to
       your functions.  It doesn't work perfectly, but it usually gets most of the job done.
       Simple files like errno.h, syscall.h, and socket.h were fine, but the hard ones like
       ioctl.h nearly always need to be hand-edited.  Here's how to install the *.ph files:

               1.  become super-user
               2.  cd /usr/include
               3.  h2ph *.h */*.h

       If your system supports dynamic loading, for reasons of portability and sanity you
       probably ought to use "h2xs" (also part of the standard perl distribution).  This tool
       converts C header files to Perl extensions.  See perlxstut for how to get started with

       If your system doesn't support dynamic loading, you still probably ought to use "h2xs".
       See perlxstut and ExtUtils::MakeMaker for more information (in brief, just use make perl
       instead of a plain make to rebuild perl with a new static extension).

   Why do setuid perl scripts complain about kernel problems?
       Some operating systems have bugs in the kernel that make setuid scripts inherently
       insecure.  Perl gives you a number of options (described in perlsec) to work around such

   How can I open a pipe both to and from a command?
       The "IPC::Open2" module (part of the standard perl distribution) is an easy-to-use
       approach that internally uses "pipe()", "fork()", and "exec()" to do the job.  Make sure
       you read the deadlock warnings in its documentation, though (see IPC::Open2).  See
       "Bidirectional Communication with Another Process" in perlipc and "Bidirectional
       Communication with Yourself" in perlipc

       You may also use the "IPC::Open3" module (part of the standard perl distribution), but be
       warned that it has a different order of arguments from "IPC::Open2" (see IPC::Open3).

   Why can't I get the output of a command with system()?
       You're confusing the purpose of "system()" and backticks (``).  "system()" runs a command
       and returns exit status information (as a 16 bit value: the low 7 bits are the signal the
       process died from, if any, and the high 8 bits are the actual exit value).  Backticks (``)
       run a command and return what it sent to STDOUT.

               $exit_status   = system("mail-users");
               $output_string = `ls`;

   How can I capture STDERR from an external command?
       There are three basic ways of running external commands:

               system $cmd;            # using system()
               $output = `$cmd`;               # using backticks (``)
               open (PIPE, "cmd |");   # using open()

       With "system()", both STDOUT and STDERR will go the same place as the script's STDOUT and
       STDERR, unless the "system()" command redirects them.  Backticks and "open()" read only
       the STDOUT of your command.

       You can also use the "open3()" function from "IPC::Open3".  Benjamin Goldberg provides
       some sample code:

       To capture a program's STDOUT, but discard its STDERR:

               use IPC::Open3;
               use File::Spec;
               use Symbol qw(gensym);
               open(NULL, ">", File::Spec->devnull);
               my $pid = open3(gensym, \*PH, ">&NULL", "cmd");
               while( <PH> ) { }
               waitpid($pid, 0);

       To capture a program's STDERR, but discard its STDOUT:

               use IPC::Open3;
               use File::Spec;
               use Symbol qw(gensym);
               open(NULL, ">", File::Spec->devnull);
               my $pid = open3(gensym, ">&NULL", \*PH, "cmd");
               while( <PH> ) { }
               waitpid($pid, 0);

       To capture a program's STDERR, and let its STDOUT go to our own STDERR:

               use IPC::Open3;
               use Symbol qw(gensym);
               my $pid = open3(gensym, ">&STDERR", \*PH, "cmd");
               while( <PH> ) { }
               waitpid($pid, 0);

       To read both a command's STDOUT and its STDERR separately, you can redirect them to temp
       files, let the command run, then read the temp files:

               use IPC::Open3;
               use Symbol qw(gensym);
               use IO::File;
               local *CATCHOUT = IO::File->new_tmpfile;
               local *CATCHERR = IO::File->new_tmpfile;
               my $pid = open3(gensym, ">&CATCHOUT", ">&CATCHERR", "cmd");
               waitpid($pid, 0);
               seek $_, 0, 0 for \*CATCHOUT, \*CATCHERR;
               while( <CATCHOUT> ) {}
               while( <CATCHERR> ) {}

       But there's no real need for both to be tempfiles... the following should work just as
       well, without deadlocking:

               use IPC::Open3;
               use Symbol qw(gensym);
               use IO::File;
               local *CATCHERR = IO::File->new_tmpfile;
               my $pid = open3(gensym, \*CATCHOUT, ">&CATCHERR", "cmd");
               while( <CATCHOUT> ) {}
               waitpid($pid, 0);
               seek CATCHERR, 0, 0;
               while( <CATCHERR> ) {}

       And it'll be faster, too, since we can begin processing the program's stdout immediately,
       rather than waiting for the program to finish.

       With any of these, you can change file descriptors before the call:

               open(STDOUT, ">logfile");

       or you can use Bourne shell file-descriptor redirection:

               $output = `$cmd 2>some_file`;
               open (PIPE, "cmd 2>some_file |");

       You can also use file-descriptor redirection to make STDERR a duplicate of STDOUT:

               $output = `$cmd 2>&1`;
               open (PIPE, "cmd 2>&1 |");

       Note that you cannot simply open STDERR to be a dup of STDOUT in your Perl program and
       avoid calling the shell to do the redirection.  This doesn't work:

               open(STDERR, ">&STDOUT");
               $alloutput = `cmd args`;  # stderr still escapes

       This fails because the "open()" makes STDERR go to where STDOUT was going at the time of
       the "open()".  The backticks then make STDOUT go to a string, but don't change STDERR
       (which still goes to the old STDOUT).

       Note that you must use Bourne shell (sh(1)) redirection syntax in backticks, not csh(1)!
       Details on why Perl's "system()" and backtick and pipe opens all use the Bourne shell are
       in the versus/csh.whynot article in the "Far More Than You Ever Wanted To Know" collection
       in .  To capture a command's STDERR and
       STDOUT together:

               $output = `cmd 2>&1`;                       # either with backticks
               $pid = open(PH, "cmd 2>&1 |");              # or with an open pipe
               while (<PH>) { }                            #    plus a read

       To capture a command's STDOUT but discard its STDERR:

               $output = `cmd 2>/dev/null`;                # either with backticks
               $pid = open(PH, "cmd 2>/dev/null |");       # or with an open pipe
               while (<PH>) { }                            #    plus a read

       To capture a command's STDERR but discard its STDOUT:

               $output = `cmd 2>&1 1>/dev/null`;           # either with backticks
               $pid = open(PH, "cmd 2>&1 1>/dev/null |");  # or with an open pipe
               while (<PH>) { }                            #    plus a read

       To exchange a command's STDOUT and STDERR in order to capture the STDERR but leave its
       STDOUT to come out our old STDERR:

               $output = `cmd 3>&1 1>&2 2>&3 3>&-`;        # either with backticks
               $pid = open(PH, "cmd 3>&1 1>&2 2>&3 3>&-|");# or with an open pipe
               while (<PH>) { }                            #    plus a read

       To read both a command's STDOUT and its STDERR separately, it's easiest to redirect them
       separately to files, and then read from those files when the program is done:

               system("program args 1>program.stdout 2>program.stderr");

       Ordering is important in all these examples.  That's because the shell processes file
       descriptor redirections in strictly left to right order.

               system("prog args 1>tmpfile 2>&1");
               system("prog args 2>&1 1>tmpfile");

       The first command sends both standard out and standard error to the temporary file.  The
       second command sends only the old standard output there, and the old standard error shows
       up on the old standard out.

   Why doesn't open() return an error when a pipe open fails?
       If the second argument to a piped "open()" contains shell metacharacters, perl "fork()"s,
       then "exec()"s a shell to decode the metacharacters and eventually run the desired
       program.  If the program couldn't be run, it's the shell that gets the message, not Perl.
       All your Perl program can find out is whether the shell itself could be successfully
       started.  You can still capture the shell's STDERR and check it for error messages.  See
       "How can I capture STDERR from an external command?" elsewhere in this document, or use
       the "IPC::Open3" module.

       If there are no shell metacharacters in the argument of "open()", Perl runs the command
       directly, without using the shell, and can correctly report whether the command started.

   What's wrong with using backticks in a void context?
       Strictly speaking, nothing.  Stylistically speaking, it's not a good way to write
       maintainable code.  Perl has several operators for running external commands.  Backticks
       are one; they collect the output from the command for use in your program.  The "system"
       function is another; it doesn't do this.

       Writing backticks in your program sends a clear message to the readers of your code that
       you wanted to collect the output of the command.  Why send a clear message that isn't

       Consider this line:

               `cat /etc/termcap`;

       You forgot to check $? to see whether the program even ran correctly.  Even if you wrote

               print `cat /etc/termcap`;

       this code could and probably should be written as

               system("cat /etc/termcap") == 0
               or die "cat program failed!";

       which will echo the cat command's output as it is generated, instead of waiting until the
       program has completed to print it out. It also checks the return value.

       "system" also provides direct control over whether shell wildcard processing may take
       place, whereas backticks do not.

   How can I call backticks without shell processing?
       This is a bit tricky.  You can't simply write the command like this:

               @ok = `grep @opts '$search_string' @filenames`;

       As of Perl 5.8.0, you can use "open()" with multiple arguments.  Just like the list forms
       of "system()" and "exec()", no shell escapes happen.

               open( GREP, "-|", 'grep', @opts, $search_string, @filenames );
               chomp(@ok = <GREP>);
               close GREP;

       You can also:

               my @ok = ();
               if (open(GREP, "-|")) {
                       while (<GREP>) {
                               push(@ok, $_);
                       close GREP;
               } else {
                       exec 'grep', @opts, $search_string, @filenames;

       Just as with "system()", no shell escapes happen when you "exec()" a list. Further
       examples of this can be found in "Safe Pipe Opens" in perlipc.

       Note that if you're using Windows, no solution to this vexing issue is even possible.
       Even though Perl emulates "fork()", you'll still be stuck, because Windows does not have
       an argc/argv-style API.

   Why can't my script read from STDIN after I gave it EOF (^D on Unix, ^Z on MS-DOS)?
       This happens only if your perl is compiled to use stdio instead of perlio, which is the
       default. Some (maybe all?) stdios set error and eof flags that you may need to clear. The
       "POSIX" module defines "clearerr()" that you can use.  That is the technically correct way
       to do it.  Here are some less reliable workarounds:

       1.  Try keeping around the seekpointer and go there, like this:

                   $where = tell(LOG);
                   seek(LOG, $where, 0);

       2.  If that doesn't work, try seeking to a different part of the file and then back.

       3.  If that doesn't work, try seeking to a different part of the file, reading something,
           and then seeking back.

       4.  If that doesn't work, give up on your stdio package and use sysread.

   How can I convert my shell script to perl?
       Learn Perl and rewrite it.  Seriously, there's no simple converter.  Things that are
       awkward to do in the shell are easy to do in Perl, and this very awkwardness is what would
       make a shell->perl converter nigh-on impossible to write.  By rewriting it, you'll think
       about what you're really trying to do, and hopefully will escape the shell's pipeline
       datastream paradigm, which while convenient for some matters, causes many inefficiencies.

   Can I use perl to run a telnet or ftp session?
       Try the "Net::FTP", "TCP::Client", and "Net::Telnet" modules (available from CPAN). will also help for emulating the
       telnet protocol, but "Net::Telnet" is quite probably easier to use.

       If all you want to do is pretend to be telnet but don't need the initial telnet
       handshaking, then the standard dual-process approach will suffice:

               use IO::Socket;             # new in 5.004
               $handle = IO::Socket::INET->new('')
                   or die "can't connect to port 80 on $!";
               if (fork()) {               # XXX: undef means failure
                   print while <STDIN>;    # everything from stdin to socket
               } else {
                   print while <$handle>;  # everything from socket to stdout
               close $handle;

   How can I write expect in Perl?
       Once upon a time, there was a library called (part of the standard perl
       distribution), which never really got finished.  If you find it somewhere, don't use it.
       These days, your best bet is to look at the Expect module available from CPAN, which also
       requires two other modules from CPAN, "IO::Pty" and "IO::Stty".

   Is there a way to hide perl's command line from programs such as "ps"?
       First of all note that if you're doing this for security reasons (to avoid people seeing
       passwords, for example) then you should rewrite your program so that critical information
       is never given as an argument.  Hiding the arguments won't make your program completely

       To actually alter the visible command line, you can assign to the variable $0 as
       documented in perlvar.  This won't work on all operating systems, though.  Daemon programs
       like sendmail place their state there, as in:

               $0 = "orcus [accepting connections]";

   I {changed directory, modified my environment} in a perl script.  How come the change
       disappeared when I exited the script?  How do I get my changes to be visible?
           In the strictest sense, it can't be done--the script executes as a different process
           from the shell it was started from.  Changes to a process are not reflected in its
           parent--only in any children created after the change.  There is shell magic that may
           allow you to fake it by "eval()"ing the script's output in your shell; check out the
           comp.unix.questions FAQ for details.

   How do I close a process's filehandle without waiting for it to complete?
       Assuming your system supports such things, just send an appropriate signal to the process
       (see "kill" in perlfunc).  It's common to first send a TERM signal, wait a little bit, and
       then send a KILL signal to finish it off.

   How do I fork a daemon process?
       If by daemon process you mean one that's detached (disassociated from its tty), then the
       following process is reported to work on most Unixish systems.  Non-Unix users should
       check their Your_OS::Process module for other solutions.

       ·   Open /dev/tty and use the TIOCNOTTY ioctl on it.  See tty for details.  Or better yet,
           you can just use the "POSIX::setsid()" function, so you don't have to worry about
           process groups.

       ·   Change directory to /

       ·   Reopen STDIN, STDOUT, and STDERR so they're not connected to the old tty.

       ·   Background yourself like this:

                   fork && exit;

       The "Proc::Daemon" module, available from CPAN, provides a function to perform these
       actions for you.

   How do I find out if I'm running interactively or not?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       This is a difficult question to answer, and the best answer is only a guess.

       What do you really want to know? If you merely want to know if one of your filehandles is
       connected to a terminal, you can try the "-t" file test:

               if( -t STDOUT ) {
                       print "I'm connected to a terminal!\n";

       However, you might be out of luck if you expect that means there is a real person on the
       other side. With the "Expect" module, another program can pretend to be a person. The
       program might even come close to passing the Turing test.

       The "IO::Interactive" module does the best it can to give you an answer. Its
       "is_interactive" function returns an output filehandle; that filehandle points to standard
       output if the module thinks the session is interactive. Otherwise, the filehandle is a
       null handle that simply discards the output:

               use IO::Interactive;

               print { is_interactive } "I might go to standard output!\n";

       This still doesn't guarantee that a real person is answering your prompts or reading your

       If you want to know how to handle automated testing for your distribution, you can check
       the environment. The CPAN Testers, for instance, set the value of "AUTOMATED_TESTING":

               unless( $ENV{AUTOMATED_TESTING} ) {
                       print "Hello interactive tester!\n";

   How do I timeout a slow event?
       Use the "alarm()" function, probably in conjunction with a signal handler, as documented
       in "Signals" in perlipc and the section on "Signals" in the Camel.  You may instead use
       the more flexible "Sys::AlarmCall" module available from CPAN.

       The "alarm()" function is not implemented on all versions of Windows.  Check the
       documentation for your specific version of Perl.

   How do I set CPU limits?
       (contributed by Xho)

       Use the "BSD::Resource" module from CPAN. As an example:

               use BSD::Resource;
               setrlimit(RLIMIT_CPU,10,20) or die $!;

       This sets the soft and hard limits to 10 and 20 seconds, respectively.  After 10 seconds
       of time spent running on the CPU (not "wall" time), the process will be sent a signal
       (XCPU on some systems) which, if not trapped, will cause the process to terminate.  If
       that signal is trapped, then after 10 more seconds (20 seconds in total) the process will
       be killed with a non-trappable signal.

       See the "BSD::Resource" and your systems documentation for the gory details.

   How do I avoid zombies on a Unix system?
       Use the reaper code from "Signals" in perlipc to call "wait()" when a SIGCHLD is received,
       or else use the double-fork technique described in "How do I start a process in the
       background?" in perlfaq8.

   How do I use an SQL database?
       The "DBI" module provides an abstract interface to most database servers and types,
       including Oracle, DB2, Sybase, mysql, Postgresql, ODBC, and flat files.  The DBI module
       accesses each database type through a database driver, or DBD.  You can see a complete
       list of available drivers on CPAN: .  You can
       read more about DBI on .

       Other modules provide more specific access: "Win32::ODBC", "Alzabo", "iodbc", and others
       found on CPAN Search: .

   How do I make a system() exit on control-C?
       You can't.  You need to imitate the "system()" call (see perlipc for sample code) and then
       have a signal handler for the INT signal that passes the signal on to the subprocess.  Or
       you can check for it:

               $rc = system($cmd);
               if ($rc & 127) { die "signal death" }

   How do I open a file without blocking?
       If you're lucky enough to be using a system that supports non-blocking reads (most Unixish
       systems do), you need only to use the "O_NDELAY" or "O_NONBLOCK" flag from the "Fcntl"
       module in conjunction with "sysopen()":

               use Fcntl;
               sysopen(FH, "/foo/somefile", O_WRONLY|O_NDELAY|O_CREAT, 0644)
                       or die "can't open /foo/somefile: $!":

   How do I tell the difference between errors from the shell and perl?
       (answer contributed by brian d foy)

       When you run a Perl script, something else is running the script for you, and that
       something else may output error messages.  The script might emit its own warnings and
       error messages.  Most of the time you cannot tell who said what.

       You probably cannot fix the thing that runs perl, but you can change how perl outputs its
       warnings by defining a custom warning and die functions.

       Consider this script, which has an error you may not notice immediately.


               print "Hello World\n";

       I get an error when I run this from my shell (which happens to be bash).  That may look
       like perl forgot it has a "print()" function, but my shebang line is not the path to perl,
       so the shell runs the script, and I get the error.

               $ ./test
               ./test: line 3: print: command not found

       A quick and dirty fix involves a little bit of code, but this may be all you need to
       figure out the problem.

               #!/usr/bin/perl -w

               BEGIN {
               $SIG{__WARN__} = sub{ print STDERR "Perl: ", @_; };
               $SIG{__DIE__}  = sub{ print STDERR "Perl: ", @_; exit 1};

               $a = 1 + undef;
               $x / 0;

       The perl message comes out with "Perl" in front.  The "BEGIN" block works at compile time
       so all of the compilation errors and warnings get the "Perl:" prefix too.

               Perl: Useless use of division (/) in void context at ./test line 9.
               Perl: Name "main::a" used only once: possible typo at ./test line 8.
               Perl: Name "main::x" used only once: possible typo at ./test line 9.
               Perl: Use of uninitialized value in addition (+) at ./test line 8.
               Perl: Use of uninitialized value in division (/) at ./test line 9.
               Perl: Illegal division by zero at ./test line 9.
               Perl: Illegal division by zero at -e line 3.

       If I don't see that "Perl:", it's not from perl.

       You could also just know all the perl errors, and although there are some people who may
       know all of them, you probably don't.  However, they all should be in the perldiag
       manpage. If you don't find the error in there, it probably isn't a perl error.

       Looking up every message is not the easiest way, so let perl to do it for you.  Use the
       diagnostics pragma with turns perl's normal messages into longer discussions on the topic.

               use diagnostics;

       If you don't get a paragraph or two of expanded discussion, it might not be perl's

   How do I install a module from CPAN?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       The easiest way is to have a module also named CPAN do it for you by using the "cpan"
       command that comes with Perl. You can give it a list of modules to install:

               $ cpan IO::Interactive Getopt::Whatever

       If you prefer "CPANPLUS", it's just as easy:

               $ cpanp i IO::Interactive Getopt::Whatever

       If you want to install a distribution from the current directory, you can tell ""
       to install "." (the full stop):

               $ cpan .

       See the documentation for either of those commands to see what else you can do.

       If you want to try to install a distribution by yourself, resolving all dependencies on
       your own, you follow one of two possible build paths.

       For distributions that use Makefile.PL:

               $ perl Makefile.PL
               $ make test install

       For distributions that use Build.PL:

               $ perl Build.PL
               $ ./Build test
               $ ./Build install

       Some distributions may need to link to libraries or other third-party code and their build
       and installation sequences may be more complicated.  Check any README or INSTALL files
       that you may find.

   What's the difference between require and use?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       Perl runs "require" statement at run-time. Once Perl loads, compiles, and runs the file,
       it doesn't do anything else. The "use" statement is the same as a "require" run at
       compile-time, but Perl also calls the "import" method for the loaded package. These two
       are the same:

               use MODULE qw(import list);

               BEGIN {
                       require MODULE;
                       MODULE->import(import list);

       However, you can suppress the "import" by using an explicit, empty import list. Both of
       these still happen at compile-time:

               use MODULE ();

               BEGIN {
                       require MODULE;

       Since "use" will also call the "import" method, the actual value for "MODULE" must be a
       bareword. That is, "use" cannot load files by name, although "require" can:

               require "$ENV{HOME}/lib/"; # no @INC searching!

       See the entry for "use" in perlfunc for more details.

   How do I keep my own module/library directory?
       When you build modules, tell Perl where to install the modules.

       If you want to install modules for your own use, the easiest way might be "local::lib",
       which you can download from CPAN. It sets various installation settings for you, and uses
       those same settings within your programs.

       If you want more flexibility, you need to configure your CPAN client for your particular

       For "Makefile.PL"-based distributions, use the INSTALL_BASE option when generating

               perl Makefile.PL INSTALL_BASE=/mydir/perl

       You can set this in your "" configuration so modules automatically install in your
       private library directory when you use the shell:

               % cpan
               cpan> o conf makepl_arg INSTALL_BASE=/mydir/perl
               cpan> o conf commit

       For "Build.PL"-based distributions, use the --install_base option:

               perl Build.PL --install_base /mydir/perl

       You can configure "" to automatically use this option too:

               % cpan
               cpan> o conf mbuild_arg "--install_base /mydir/perl"
               cpan> o conf commit

       INSTALL_BASE tells these tools to put your modules into /mydir/perl/lib/perl5.  See "How
       do I add a directory to my include path (@INC) at runtime?" for details on how to run your
       newly installed modules.

       There is one caveat with INSTALL_BASE, though, since it acts differently from the PREFIX
       and LIB settings that older versions of "ExtUtils::MakeMaker" advocated. INSTALL_BASE does
       not support installing modules for multiple versions of Perl or different architectures
       under the same directory. You should consider whether you really want that and, if you do,
       use the older PREFIX and LIB settings. See the "ExtUtils::Makemaker" documentation for
       more details.

   How do I add the directory my program lives in to the module/library search path?
       (contributed by brian d foy)

       If you know the directory already, you can add it to @INC as you would for any other
       directory. You might <use lib> if you know the directory at compile time:

               use lib $directory;

       The trick in this task is to find the directory. Before your script does anything else
       (such as a "chdir"), you can get the current working directory with the "Cwd" module,
       which comes with Perl:

               BEGIN {
                       use Cwd;
                       our $directory = cwd;

               use lib $directory;

       You can do a similar thing with the value of $0, which holds the script name. That might
       hold a relative path, but "rel2abs" can turn it into an absolute path. Once you have the

               BEGIN {
                       use File::Spec::Functions qw(rel2abs);
                       use File::Basename qw(dirname);

                       my $path   = rel2abs( $0 );
                       our $directory = dirname( $path );

               use lib $directory;

       The "FindBin" module, which comes with Perl, might work. It finds the directory of the
       currently running script and puts it in $Bin, which you can then use to construct the
       right library path:

               use FindBin qw($Bin);

       You can also use "local::lib" to do much of the same thing. Install modules using
       "local::lib"'s settings then use the module in your program:

                use local::lib; # sets up a local lib at ~/perl5

       See the "local::lib" documentation for more details.

   How do I add a directory to my include path (@INC) at runtime?
       Here are the suggested ways of modifying your include path, including environment
       variables, run-time switches, and in-code statements:

       the "PERLLIB" environment variable
                   $ export PERLLIB=/path/to/my/dir
                   $ perl

       the "PERL5LIB" environment variable
                   $ export PERL5LIB=/path/to/my/dir
                   $ perl

       the "perl -Idir" command line flag
                   $ perl -I/path/to/my/dir

       the "lib" pragma:
                   use lib "$ENV{HOME}/myown_perllib";

       the "local::lib" module:
                   use local::lib;

                   use local::lib "~/myown_perllib";

       The last is particularly useful because it knows about machine-dependent architectures.
       The "" pragmatic module was first included with the 5.002 release of Perl.

   What is and where do I get it?
       It's a Perl 4 style file defining values for system networking constants.  Sometimes it is
       built using "h2ph" when Perl is installed, but other times it is not.  Modern programs
       "use Socket;" instead.


       Copyright (c) 1997-2010 Tom Christiansen, Nathan Torkington, and other authors as noted.
       All rights reserved.

       This documentation is free; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms
       as Perl itself.

       Irrespective of its distribution, all code examples in this file are hereby placed into
       the public domain.  You are permitted and encouraged to use this code in your own programs
       for fun or for profit as you see fit.  A simple comment in the code giving credit would be
       courteous but is not required.