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PERLFAQ8(1)	       Perl Programmers Reference Guide 	   PERLFAQ8(1)

       perlfaq8 - System Interaction ($Revision: 1.27 $, $Date: 2005/12/31
       00:54:37 $)

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

       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 Im 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() doesnt return?

       Because thats what it does: it replaces your currently running program
       with a different one.  If you want to keep going (as is probably the
       case if youre asking this question) use system() instead.

       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 perlfaq.

       How do I print something out in color?

       In general, you dont, because you dont know whether the recipient has
       a color-aware display device.  If you know that they have an ANSI ter
       minal 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, thats already getting you into portabil
       ity snags.

	   open(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 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 Windows.

	   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.  Heres a solution using
       the standard POSIX module, which is already on your systems (assuming
       your system supports POSIX).

	   use HotKey;
	   $key = readkey();

       And heres the HotKey module, which hides the somewhat mystifying calls
       to manipulate the POSIX termios structures.

	   # HotKey.pm
	   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 dont 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?

       If you only have do so infrequently, use "system":


       If you have to do this a lot, save the clear string so you can print it
       100 times without calling a program 100 times:

	   $clear_string = clear;
	   print $clear_string;

       If youre planning on doing other screen manipulations, like cursor
       positions, etc, you might wish to use Term::Cap module:

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

       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/ioctl.ph;
	   die "no TIOCGWINSZ " unless defined &TIOCGWINSZ;
	   open(TTY, "+autoflush(1);

	   As mentioned in the previous item, this still doesnt work when
	   using socket I/O between Unix and Macintosh.  Youll need to hard
	   code your line terminators, in that case.

       non-blocking input
	   If you are doing a blocking read() or sysread(), youll have to
	   arrange for an alarm handler to provide a timeout (see "alarm" in
	   perlfunc).  If you have a non-blocking open, youll 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 Zawin
       ski , after much gnashing of teeth and fighting with
       sysread, sysopen, POSIXs tcgetattr business, and various other func
       tions 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/ttys stty settings, even when it has
	       # been opened on a pipe...
	       system("/bin/stty $stty");
	       $_ = ;
	       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 cant if they are Unix password files--the Unix password
       system employs one-way encryption.  Its more like hashing than encryp
       tion.  The best you can check is whether something else hashes to the
       same string.  You cant turn a hash back into the original string.
       Programs like Crack can forcibly (and intelligently) try to guess pass
       words, but dont (cant) guarantee quick success.

       If youre 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?

       Several modules can start other processes that do not block your Perl
       program.  You can use IPC::Open3, Parallel::Jobs, IPC::Run, and some of
       the POE modules.  See CPAN for more details.

       You could also use

	   system("cmd &")

       or you could use fork as documented in "fork" in perlfunc, with further
       examples in perlipc.  Some things to be aware of, if youre on a Unix-
       like system:

       STDIN, STDOUT, and STDERR are shared
	   Both the main process and the backgrounded one (the "child" pro
	   cess) 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 par

	   Youll 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 fin

	       $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;

	   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 dont actually "trap" a control character.  Instead, that character
       generates a signal which is sent to your terminals currently fore
       grounded 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 youre running under sufficient permissions, you should be
       able to set the system-wide date and time by running the date(1) pro
       gram.  (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 proba
       bly get away with setting an environment variable:

	   $ENV{TZ} = "MST7MDT";		  # unixish
	   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() func
       tion provides, the easiest way is to use the select() function as docu
       mented 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?

       In general, you may not be able to.  The Time::HiRes module (available
       from CPAN, and starting from Perl 5.8 part of the standard distribu
       tion) provides this functionality for some systems.

       If your system supports both the syscall() function in Perl as well as
       a system call like gettimeofday(2), then you may be able to do some
       thing like this:

	   require sys/syscall.ph;

	   $TIMEVAL_T = "LL";

	   $done = $start = pack($TIMEVAL_T, ());

	   syscall(&SYS_gettimeofday, $start, 0) != -1
		      or die "gettimeofday: $!";


	   syscall( &SYS_gettimeofday, $done, 0) != -1
		  or die "gettimeofday: $!";

	   @start = unpack($TIMEVAL_T, $start);
	   @done  = unpack($TIMEVAL_T, $done);

	   # fix microseconds
	   for ($done[1], $start[1]) { $_ /= 1_000_000 }

	   $delta_time = sprintf "%.4f", ($done[0]  + $done[1]	)
					($start[0] + $start[1] );

       How can I do an atexit() or setjmp()/longjmp()? (Exception handling)

       Release 5 of Perl added the END block, which can be used to simulate
       atexit().  Each packages END block is called when the program or
       thread ends (see perlmod manpage for more details).

       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 isnt called when untrapped signals kill the program,
       though, so if you use END blocks you should also use

	       use sigtrap qw(die normal-signals);

       Perls 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 the
       Camel Book.

       If exception handling is all youre interested in, try the excep
       tions.pl library (part of the standard perl distribution).

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

       Why doesnt 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 archi
       tectures, they were often hardwired into perl code.  The proper way to
       deal with this is to "use Socket" to get the correct values.

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

       How can I call my systems 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]".  How
       ever, if the function is a system call, and your system supports
       syscall(), you can use the syscall function (documented in perlfunc).

       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
       doesnt work perfectly, but it usually gets most of the job done.  Sim
       ple files like errno.h, syscall.h, and socket.h were fine, but the hard
       ones like ioctl.h nearly always need to hand-edited.  Heres 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 h2xs.

       If your system doesnt 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 systems.

       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 documenta
       tion, though (see IPC::Open2).  See "Bidirectional Communication with
       Another Process" in perlipc and "Bidirectional Communication with Your
       self" in perlipc

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

       Why cant I get the output of a command with system()?

       Youre 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
       scripts 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 Gold
       berg provides some sample code:

       To capture a programs STDOUT, but discard its STDERR:

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

       To capture a programs STDERR, but discard its STDOUT:

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

       To capture a programs STDERR, and let its STDOUT go to our own STDERR:

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

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

	   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(  ) {}
	   while(  ) {}

       But theres 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 $pid = open3(gensym, \*CATCHOUT, ">&CATCHERR", "cmd");
	   while(  ) {}
	   waitpid($pid, 0);
	   seek CATCHERR, 0, 0;
	   while(  ) {}

       And itll be faster, too, since we can begin processing the programs
       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
       doesnt 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 dont change STDERR (which still goes to the old STDOUT).

       Note that you must use Bourne shell (sh(1)) redirection syntax in back
       ticks, not csh(1)!  Details on why Perls system() and backtick and
       pipe opens all use the Bourne shell are in the versus/csh.whynot arti
       cle in the "Far More Than You Ever Wanted To Know" collection in
       http://www.cpan.org/misc/olddoc/FMTEYEWTK.tgz .	To capture a commands
       STDERR and STDOUT together:

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

       To capture a commands 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 () { }			       #    plus a read

       To capture a commands 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 () { }			       #    plus a read

       To exchange a commands 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 () { }			       #    plus a read

       To read both a commands STDOUT and its STDERR separately, its 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.  Thats 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 doesnt 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 couldnt be run,
       its 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 shells STDERR and check it for error mes
       sages.  See "How can I capture STDERR from an external command?" else
       where 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.

       Whats wrong with using backticks in a void context?

       Strictly speaking, nothing.  Stylistically speaking, its 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
       doesnt 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 isnt true?

       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 get the output quickly (as it is generated, instead of only
       at the end) and also check the return value.

       system() also provides direct control over whether shell wildcard pro
       cessing may take place, whereas backticks do not.

       How can I call backticks without shell processing?

       This is a bit tricky.  You cant 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 = );
	  close GREP;

       You can also:

	   my @ok = ();
	   if (open(GREP, "-|")) {
	       while () {
		   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 youre use Microsoft, no solution to this vexing issue is
       even possible.  Even if Perl were to emulate fork(), youd still be
       stuck, because Microsoft does not have a argc/argv-style API.

       Why cant my script read from STDIN after I gave it EOF (^D on Unix, ^Z
       on MS-DOS)?

       Some stdios set error and eof flags that need clearing.	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 doesnt work, try seeking to a different part of the file
	   and then back.

       3   If that doesnt work, try seeking to a different part of the file,
	   reading something, and then seeking back.

       4   If that doesnt work, give up on your stdio package and use sys

       How can I convert my shell script to perl?

       Learn Perl and rewrite it.  Seriously, theres 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, youll think about what
       youre really trying to do, and hopefully will escape the shells
       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).  http://www.cpan.org/scripts/netstuff/telnet.emul.shar will also
       help for emulating the telnet protocol, but Net::Telnet is quite proba
       bly easier to use..

       If all you want to do is pretend to be telnet but dont need the ini
       tial telnet handshaking, then the standard dual-process approach will

	   use IO::Socket;	       # new in 5.004
	   $handle = IO::Socket::INET->new(www.perl.com:80)
		   || die "cant connect to port 80 on www.perl.com: $!";
	   if (fork()) {	       # XXX: undef means failure
	       print while ;    # everything from stdin to socket
	   } else {
	       print while <$handle>;  # everything from socket to stdout
	   close $handle;

       How can I write expect in Perl?

       Once upon a time, there was a library called chat2.pl (part of the
       standard perl distribution), which never really got finished.  If you
       find it somewhere, dont 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 perls command line from programs such as "ps"?

       First of all note that if youre 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 argu
       ment.  Hiding the arguments wont make your program completely secure.

       To actually alter the visible command line, you can assign to the vari
       able $0 as documented in perlvar.  This wont 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 cant 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 cre
	   ated after the change.  There is shell magic that may allow you to
	   fake it by eval()ing the scripts output in your shell; check out
	   the comp.unix.questions FAQ for details.

       How do I close a processs filehandle without waiting for it to com

       Assuming your system supports such things, just send an appropriate
       signal to the process (see "kill" in perlfunc).	Its 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 thats detached (disassociated from
       its tty), then the following process is reported to work on most Unix
       ish 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() func
	   tion, so you dont have to worry about process groups.

	  Change directory to /

	  Reopen STDIN, STDOUT, and STDERR so theyre 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 Im running interactively or not?

       Good question.  Sometimes "-t STDIN" and "-t STDOUT" can give clues,
       sometimes not.

	   if (-t STDIN && -t STDOUT) {
	       print "Now what? ";

       On POSIX systems, you can test whether your own process group matches
       the current process group of your controlling terminal as follows:

	   use POSIX qw/getpgrp tcgetpgrp/;
	   open(TTY, "/dev/tty") or die $!;
	   $tpgrp = tcgetpgrp(fileno(*TTY));
	   $pgrp = getpgrp();
	   if ($tpgrp == $pgrp) {
	       print "foreground\n";
	   } else {
	       print "background\n";

       How do I timeout a slow event?

       Use the alarm() function, probably in conjunction with a signal han
       dler, as documented in "Signals" in perlipc and the section on "Sig
       nals" in the Camel.  You may instead use the more flexible Sys::Alarm
       Call 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?

       Use the BSD::Resource module from CPAN.

       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: http://www.cpan.org/modules/by-module/DBD/ .  You can
       read more about DBI on http://dbi.perl.org .

       Other modules provide more specific access: Win32::ODBC, Alzabo, iodbc,
       and others found on CPAN Search: http://search.cpan.org .

       How do I make a system() exit on control-C?

       You cant.  You need to imitate the system() call (see perlipc for sam
       ple 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 youre 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 "cant 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

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


	       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 dont see that "Perl:", its 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 dont.  However,
       they all should be in the perldiag manpage. If you dont find the error
       in there, it probably isnt 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 perls normal messages
       into longer discussions on the topic.

	       use diagnostics;

       If you dont get a paragraph or two of expanded discussion, it might
       not be perls message.

       How do I install a module from CPAN?

       The easiest way is to have a module also named CPAN do it for you.
       This module comes with perl version 5.004 and later.

	   $ perl -MCPAN -e shell

	   cpan shell -- CPAN exploration and modules installation (v1.59_54)
	   ReadLine support enabled

	   cpan> install Some::Module

       To manually install the CPAN module, or any well-behaved CPAN module
       for that matter, follow these steps:

       1   Unpack the source into a temporary area.

	       perl Makefile.PL


	       make test

	       make install

       If your version of perl is compiled without dynamic loading, then you
       just need to replace step 3 (make) with make perl and you will get a
       new perl binary with your extension linked in.

       See ExtUtils::MakeMaker for more details on building extensions.  See
       also the next question, "Whats the difference between require and

       Whats the difference between require and use?

       Perl offers several different ways to include code from one file into
       another.  Here are the deltas between the various inclusion constructs:

	   1)  do $file is like eval cat $file, except the former
	       1.1: searches @INC and updates %INC.
	       1.2: bequeaths an *unrelated* lexical scope on the evaled code.

	   2)  require $file is like do $file, except the former
	       2.1: checks for redundant loading, skipping already loaded files.
	       2.2: raises an exception on failure to find, compile, or execute $file.

	   3)  require Module is like require "Module.pm", except the former
	       3.1: translates each "::" into your systems directory separator.
	       3.2: primes the parser to disambiguate class Module as an indirect object.

	   4)  use Module is like require Module, except the former
	       4.1: loads the module at compile time, not run-time.
	       4.2: imports symbols and semantics from that package to the current one.

       In general, you usually want "use" and a proper Perl module.

       How do I keep my own module/library directory?

       When you build modules, use the PREFIX and LIB options when generating

	   perl Makefile.PL PREFIX=/mydir/perl LIB=/mydir/perl/lib

       then either set the PERL5LIB environment variable before you run
       scripts that use the modules/libraries (see perlrun) or say

	   use lib /mydir/perl/lib;

       This is almost the same as

	   BEGIN {
	       unshift(@INC, /mydir/perl/lib);

       except that the lib module checks for machine-dependent subdirectories.
       See Perls lib for more information.

       How do I add the directory my program lives in to the module/library
       search path?

	   use FindBin;
	   use lib "$FindBin::Bin";
	   use your_own_modules;

       How do I add a directory to my include path (@INC) at runtime?

       Here are the suggested ways of modifying your include path:

	   the PERLLIB environment variable
	   the PERL5LIB environment variable
	   the perl -Idir command line flag
	   the use lib pragma, as in
	       use lib "$ENV{HOME}/myown_perllib";

       The latter is particularly useful because it knows about machine depen
       dent architectures.  The lib.pm pragmatic module was first included
       with the 5.002 release of Perl.

       What is socket.ph and where do I get it?

       Its a perl4-style file defining values for system networking con
       stants.	Sometimes it is built using h2ph when Perl is installed, but
       other times it is not.  Modern programs "use Socket;" instead.

       Copyright (c) 1997-2006 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.

perl v5.8.8			  2008-04-25			   PERLFAQ8(1)

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