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Perl 5 version 8.9 documentation
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CPAN - query, download and build perl modules from CPAN sites


Interactive mode:

  1. perl -MCPAN -e shell


  1. cpan

Basic commands:

  1. # Modules:
  2. cpan> install Acme::Meta # in the shell
  3. CPAN::Shell->install("Acme::Meta"); # in perl
  4. # Distributions:
  5. cpan> install NWCLARK/Acme-Meta-0.02.tar.gz # in the shell
  6. CPAN::Shell->
  7. install("NWCLARK/Acme-Meta-0.02.tar.gz"); # in perl
  8. # module objects:
  9. $mo = CPAN::Shell->expandany($mod);
  10. $mo = CPAN::Shell->expand("Module",$mod); # same thing
  11. # distribution objects:
  12. $do = CPAN::Shell->expand("Module",$mod)->distribution;
  13. $do = CPAN::Shell->expandany($distro); # same thing
  14. $do = CPAN::Shell->expand("Distribution",
  15. $distro); # same thing


The CPAN module automates or at least simplifies the make and install of perl modules and extensions. It includes some primitive searching capabilities and knows how to use Net::FTP or LWP or some external download clients to fetch the distributions from the net.

These are fetched from one or more of the mirrored CPAN (Comprehensive Perl Archive Network) sites and unpacked in a dedicated directory.

The CPAN module also supports the concept of named and versioned bundles of modules. Bundles simplify the handling of sets of related modules. See Bundles below.

The package contains a session manager and a cache manager. The session manager keeps track of what has been fetched, built and installed in the current session. The cache manager keeps track of the disk space occupied by the make processes and deletes excess space according to a simple FIFO mechanism.

All methods provided are accessible in a programmer style and in an interactive shell style.

CPAN::shell([$prompt, $command]) Starting Interactive Mode

The interactive mode is entered by running

  1. perl -MCPAN -e shell


  1. cpan

which puts you into a readline interface. If Term::ReadKey and either Term::ReadLine::Perl or Term::ReadLine::Gnu are installed it supports both history and command completion.

Once you are on the command line, type h to get a one page help screen and the rest should be self-explanatory.

The function call shell takes two optional arguments, one is the prompt, the second is the default initial command line (the latter only works if a real ReadLine interface module is installed).

The most common uses of the interactive modes are

  • Searching for authors, bundles, distribution files and modules

    There are corresponding one-letter commands a , b , d , and m for each of the four categories and another, i for any of the mentioned four. Each of the four entities is implemented as a class with slightly differing methods for displaying an object.

    Arguments you pass to these commands are either strings exactly matching the identification string of an object or regular expressions that are then matched case-insensitively against various attributes of the objects. The parser recognizes a regular expression only if you enclose it between two slashes.

    The principle is that the number of found objects influences how an item is displayed. If the search finds one item, the result is displayed with the rather verbose method as_string , but if we find more than one, we display each object with the terse method as_glimpse .


    1. cpan> m Acme::MetaSyntactic
    2. Module id = Acme::MetaSyntactic
    3. CPAN_USERID BOOK (Philippe Bruhat (BooK) <[...]>)
    4. CPAN_VERSION 0.99
    5. CPAN_FILE B/BO/BOOK/Acme-MetaSyntactic-0.99.tar.gz
    6. UPLOAD_DATE 2006-11-06
    7. MANPAGE Acme::MetaSyntactic - Themed metasyntactic variables names
    8. INST_FILE /usr/local/lib/perl/5.10.0/Acme/
    9. INST_VERSION 0.99
    10. cpan> a BOOK
    11. Author id = BOOK
    12. EMAIL [...]
    13. FULLNAME Philippe Bruhat (BooK)
    14. cpan> d BOOK/Acme-MetaSyntactic-0.99.tar.gz
    15. Distribution id = B/BO/BOOK/Acme-MetaSyntactic-0.99.tar.gz
    16. CPAN_USERID BOOK (Philippe Bruhat (BooK) <[...]>)
    17. CONTAINSMODS Acme::MetaSyntactic Acme::MetaSyntactic::Alias [...]
    18. UPLOAD_DATE 2006-11-06
    19. cpan> m /lorem/
    20. Module = Acme::MetaSyntactic::loremipsum (BOOK/Acme-MetaSyntactic-0.99.tar.gz)
    21. Module Text::Lorem (ADEOLA/Text-Lorem-0.3.tar.gz)
    22. Module Text::Lorem::More (RKRIMEN/Text-Lorem-More-0.12.tar.gz)
    23. Module Text::Lorem::More::Source (RKRIMEN/Text-Lorem-More-0.12.tar.gz)
    24. cpan> i /berlin/
    25. Distribution BEATNIK/Filter-NumberLines-0.02.tar.gz
    26. Module = DateTime::TimeZone::Europe::Berlin (DROLSKY/DateTime-TimeZone-0.7904.tar.gz)
    27. Module Filter::NumberLines (BEATNIK/Filter-NumberLines-0.02.tar.gz)
    28. Author [...]

    The examples illustrate several aspects: the first three queries target modules, authors, or distros directly and yield exactly one result. The last two use regular expressions and yield several results. The last one targets all of bundles, modules, authors, and distros simultaneously. When more than one result is available, they are printed in one-line format.

  • get , make , test , install , clean modules or distributions

    These commands take any number of arguments and investigate what is necessary to perform the action. If the argument is a distribution file name (recognized by embedded slashes), it is processed. If it is a module, CPAN determines the distribution file in which this module is included and processes that, following any dependencies named in the module's META.yml or Makefile.PL (this behavior is controlled by the configuration parameter prerequisites_policy .)

    get downloads a distribution file and untars or unzips it, make builds it, test runs the test suite, and install installs it.

    Any make or test are run unconditionally. An

    1. install <distribution_file>

    also is run unconditionally. But for

    1. install <module>

    CPAN checks if an install is actually needed for it and prints module up to date in the case that the distribution file containing the module doesn't need to be updated.

    CPAN also keeps track of what it has done within the current session and doesn't try to build a package a second time regardless if it succeeded or not. It does not repeat a test run if the test has been run successfully before. Same for install runs.

    The force pragma may precede another command (currently: get , make , test , or install ) and executes the command from scratch and tries to continue in case of some errors. See the section below on the force and the fforce pragma.

    The notest pragma may be used to skip the test part in the build process.


    1. cpan> notest install Tk

    A clean command results in a

    1. make clean

    being executed within the distribution file's working directory.

  • readme , perldoc , look module or distribution

    readme displays the README file of the associated distribution. Look gets and untars (if not yet done) the distribution file, changes to the appropriate directory and opens a subshell process in that directory. perldoc displays the pod documentation of the module in html or plain text format.

  • ls author
  • ls globbing_expression

    The first form lists all distribution files in and below an author's CPAN directory as they are stored in the CHECKUMS files distributed on CPAN. The listing goes recursive into all subdirectories.

    The second form allows to limit or expand the output with shell globbing as in the following examples:

    1. ls JV/make*
    2. ls GSAR/*make*
    3. ls */*make*

    The last example is very slow and outputs extra progress indicators that break the alignment of the result.

    Note that globbing only lists directories explicitly asked for, for example FOO/* will not list FOO/bar/Acme-Sthg-n.nn.tar.gz. This may be regarded as a bug and may be changed in future versions.

  • failed

    The failed command reports all distributions that failed on one of make , test or install for some reason in the currently running shell session.

  • Persistence between sessions

    If the YAML or the YAML::Syck module is installed a record of the internal state of all modules is written to disk after each step. The files contain a signature of the currently running perl version for later perusal.

    If the configurations variable build_dir_reuse is set to a true value, then reads the collected YAML files. If the stored signature matches the currently running perl the stored state is loaded into memory such that effectively persistence between sessions is established.

  • The force and the fforce pragma

    To speed things up in complex installation scenarios, keeps track of what it has already done and refuses to do some things a second time. A get , a make , and an install are not repeated. A test is only repeated if the previous test was unsuccessful. The diagnostic message when refuses to do something a second time is one of Has already been unwrapped|made|tested successfully or something similar. Another situation where CPAN refuses to act is an install if the according test was not successful.

    In all these cases, the user can override the goatish behaviour by prepending the command with the word force, for example:

    1. cpan> force get Foo
    2. cpan> force make AUTHOR/Bar-3.14.tar.gz
    3. cpan> force test Baz
    4. cpan> force install Acme::Meta

    Each forced command is executed with the according part of its memory erased.

    The fforce pragma is a variant that emulates a force get which erases the entire memory followed by the action specified, effectively restarting the whole get/make/test/install procedure from scratch.

  • Lockfile

    Interactive sessions maintain a lockfile, per default ~/.cpan/.lock . Batch jobs can run without a lockfile and do not disturb each other.

    The shell offers to run in degraded mode when another process is holding the lockfile. This is an experimental feature that is not yet tested very well. This second shell then does not write the history file, does not use the metadata file and has a different prompt.

  • Signals installs signal handlers for SIGINT and SIGTERM. While you are in the cpan-shell it is intended that you can press ^C anytime and return to the cpan-shell prompt. A SIGTERM will cause the cpan-shell to clean up and leave the shell loop. You can emulate the effect of a SIGTERM by sending two consecutive SIGINTs, which usually means by pressing ^C twice. ignores a SIGPIPE. If the user sets inactivity_timeout , a SIGALRM is used during the run of the perl Makefile.PL or perl Build.PL subprocess.


The commands that are available in the shell interface are methods in the package CPAN::Shell. If you enter the shell command, all your input is split by the Text::ParseWords::shellwords() routine which acts like most shells do. The first word is being interpreted as the method to be called and the rest of the words are treated as arguments to this method. Continuation lines are supported if a line ends with a literal backslash.


autobundle writes a bundle file into the $CPAN::Config->{cpan_home}/Bundle directory. The file contains a list of all modules that are both available from CPAN and currently installed within @INC. The name of the bundle file is based on the current date and a counter.


Note: this feature is still in alpha state and may change in future versions of

This commands provides a statistical overview over recent download activities. The data for this is collected in the YAML file FTPstats.yml in your cpan_home directory. If no YAML module is configured or YAML not installed, then no stats are provided.


mkmyconfig() writes your own CPAN::MyConfig file into your ~/.cpan/ directory so that you can save your own preferences instead of the system wide ones.


The recent command downloads a list of recent uploads to CPAN and displays them slowly. While the command is running $SIG{INT} is defined to mean that the loop shall be left after having displayed the current item.

Note: This command requires XML::LibXML installed.

Note: This whole command currently is just a hack and will probably change in future versions of but the general approach will likely stay.

Note: See also smoke


recompile() is a very special command in that it takes no argument and runs the make/test/install cycle with brute force over all installed dynamically loadable extensions (aka XS modules) with 'force' in effect. The primary purpose of this command is to finish a network installation. Imagine, you have a common source tree for two different architectures. You decide to do a completely independent fresh installation. You start on one architecture with the help of a Bundle file produced earlier. CPAN installs the whole Bundle for you, but when you try to repeat the job on the second architecture, CPAN responds with a "Foo up to date" message for all modules. So you invoke CPAN's recompile on the second architecture and you're done.

Another popular use for recompile is to act as a rescue in case your perl breaks binary compatibility. If one of the modules that CPAN uses is in turn depending on binary compatibility (so you cannot run CPAN commands), then you should try the CPAN::Nox module for recovery.

report Bundle|Distribution|Module

The report command temporarily turns on the test_report config variable, then runs the force test command with the given arguments. The force pragma is used to re-run the tests and repeat every step that might have failed before.


*** WARNING: this command downloads and executes software from CPAN to your computer of completely unknown status. You should never do this with your normal account and better have a dedicated well separated and secured machine to do this. ***

The smoke command takes the list of recent uploads to CPAN as provided by the recent command and tests them all. While the command is running $SIG{INT} is defined to mean that the current item shall be skipped.

Note: This whole command currently is just a hack and will probably change in future versions of but the general approach will likely stay.

Note: See also recent

upgrade [Module|/Regex/]...

The upgrade command first runs an r command with the given arguments and then installs the newest versions of all modules that were listed by that.

The four CPAN::* Classes: Author, Bundle, Module, Distribution

Although it may be considered internal, the class hierarchy does matter for both users and programmer. deals with above mentioned four classes, and all those classes share a set of methods. A classical single polymorphism is in effect. A metaclass object registers all objects of all kinds and indexes them with a string. The strings referencing objects have a separated namespace (well, not completely separated):

  1. Namespace Class
  2. words containing a "/" (slash) Distribution
  3. words starting with Bundle:: Bundle
  4. everything else Module or Author

Modules know their associated Distribution objects. They always refer to the most recent official release. Developers may mark their releases as unstable development versions (by inserting an underbar into the module version number which will also be reflected in the distribution name when you run 'make dist'), so the really hottest and newest distribution is not always the default. If a module Foo circulates on CPAN in both version 1.23 and 1.23_90, offers a convenient way to install version 1.23 by saying

  1. install Foo

This would install the complete distribution file (say BAR/Foo-1.23.tar.gz) with all accompanying material. But if you would like to install version 1.23_90, you need to know where the distribution file resides on CPAN relative to the authors/id/ directory. If the author is BAR, this might be BAR/Foo-1.23_90.tar.gz; so you would have to say

  1. install BAR/Foo-1.23_90.tar.gz

The first example will be driven by an object of the class CPAN::Module, the second by an object of class CPAN::Distribution.

Integrating local directories

Note: this feature is still in alpha state and may change in future versions of

Distribution objects are normally distributions from the CPAN, but there is a slightly degenerate case for Distribution objects, too, of projects held on the local disk. These distribution objects have the same name as the local directory and end with a dot. A dot by itself is also allowed for the current directory at the time was used. All actions such as make , test , and install are applied directly to that directory. This gives the command cpan . an interesting touch: while the normal mantra of installing a CPAN module without is one of

  1. perl Makefile.PL perl Build.PL
  2. ( go and get prerequisites )
  3. make ./Build
  4. make test ./Build test
  5. make install ./Build install

the command cpan . does all of this at once. It figures out which of the two mantras is appropriate, fetches and installs all prerequisites, cares for them recursively and finally finishes the installation of the module in the current directory, be it a CPAN module or not.

The typical usage case is for private modules or working copies of projects from remote repositories on the local disk.


The usual shell redirection symbols | and > are recognized by the cpan shell when surrounded by whitespace. So piping into a pager and redirecting output into a file works quite similar to any shell.


When the CPAN module is used for the first time, a configuration dialog tries to determine a couple of site specific options. The result of the dialog is stored in a hash reference $CPAN::Config in a file CPAN/

The default values defined in the CPAN/ file can be overridden in a user specific file: CPAN/ Such a file is best placed in $HOME/.cpan/CPAN/, because $HOME/.cpan is added to the search path of the CPAN module before the use() or require() statements. The mkmyconfig command writes this file for you.

The o conf command has various bells and whistles:

  • completion support

    If you have a ReadLine module installed, you can hit TAB at any point of the commandline and o conf will offer you completion for the built-in subcommands and/or config variable names.

  • displaying some help: o conf help

    Displays a short help

  • displaying current values: o conf [KEY]

    Displays the current value(s) for this config variable. Without KEY displays all subcommands and config variables.


    1. o conf shell

    If KEY starts and ends with a slash the string in between is interpreted as a regular expression and only keys matching this regex are displayed


    1. o conf /color/
  • changing of scalar values: o conf KEY VALUE

    Sets the config variable KEY to VALUE. The empty string can be specified as usual in shells, with '' or ""


    1. o conf wget /usr/bin/wget
  • changing of list values: o conf KEY SHIFT|UNSHIFT|PUSH|POP|SPLICE|LIST

    If a config variable name ends with list , it is a list. o conf KEY shift removes the first element of the list, o conf KEY pop removes the last element of the list. o conf KEYS unshift LIST prepends a list of values to the list, o conf KEYS push LIST appends a list of valued to the list.

    Likewise, o conf KEY splice LIST passes the LIST to the according splice command.

    Finally, any other list of arguments is taken as a new list value for the KEY variable discarding the previous value.


    1. o conf urllist unshift
    2. o conf urllist splice 3 1
    3. o conf urllist http://cpan1.local http://cpan2.local
  • reverting to saved: o conf defaults

    Reverts all config variables to the state in the saved config file.

  • saving the config: o conf commit

    Saves all config variables to the current config file (CPAN/ or CPAN/ that was loaded at start).

The configuration dialog can be started any time later again by issuing the command o conf init in the CPAN shell. A subset of the configuration dialog can be run by issuing o conf init WORD where WORD is any valid config variable or a regular expression.

Config Variables

Currently the following keys in the hash reference $CPAN::Config are defined:

  1. applypatch path to external prg
  2. auto_commit commit all changes to config variables to disk
  3. build_cache size of cache for directories to build modules
  4. build_dir locally accessible directory to build modules
  5. build_dir_reuse boolean if distros in build_dir are persistent
  6. build_requires_install_policy
  7. to install or not to install when a module is
  8. only needed for building. yes|no|ask/yes|ask/no
  9. bzip2 path to external prg
  10. cache_metadata use serializer to cache metadata
  11. check_sigs if signatures should be verified
  12. colorize_debug Term::ANSIColor attributes for debugging output
  13. colorize_output boolean if Term::ANSIColor should colorize output
  14. colorize_print Term::ANSIColor attributes for normal output
  15. colorize_warn Term::ANSIColor attributes for warnings
  16. commandnumber_in_prompt
  17. boolean if you want to see current command number
  18. commands_quote prefered character to use for quoting external
  19. commands when running them. Defaults to double
  20. quote on Windows, single tick everywhere else;
  21. can be set to space to disable quoting
  22. connect_to_internet_ok
  23. if we shall ask if opening a connection is ok before
  24. urllist is specified
  25. cpan_home local directory reserved for this package
  26. curl path to external prg
  27. dontload_hash DEPRECATED
  28. dontload_list arrayref: modules in the list will not be
  29. loaded by the CPAN::has_inst() routine
  30. ftp path to external prg
  31. ftp_passive if set, the envariable FTP_PASSIVE is set for downloads
  32. ftp_proxy proxy host for ftp requests
  33. ftpstats_period max number of days to keep download statistics
  34. ftpstats_size max number of items to keep in the download statistics
  35. getcwd see below
  36. gpg path to external prg
  37. gzip location of external program gzip
  38. halt_on_failure stop processing after the first failure of queued
  39. items or dependencies
  40. histfile file to maintain history between sessions
  41. histsize maximum number of lines to keep in histfile
  42. http_proxy proxy host for http requests
  43. inactivity_timeout breaks interactive Makefile.PLs or Build.PLs
  44. after this many seconds inactivity. Set to 0 to
  45. never break.
  46. index_expire after this many days refetch index files
  47. inhibit_startup_message
  48. if true, does not print the startup message
  49. keep_source_where directory in which to keep the source (if we do)
  50. load_module_verbosity
  51. report loading of optional modules used by
  52. lynx path to external prg
  53. make location of external make program
  54. make_arg arguments that should always be passed to 'make'
  55. make_install_make_command
  56. the make command for running 'make install', for
  57. example 'sudo make'
  58. make_install_arg same as make_arg for 'make install'
  59. makepl_arg arguments passed to 'perl Makefile.PL'
  60. mbuild_arg arguments passed to './Build'
  61. mbuild_install_arg arguments passed to './Build install'
  62. mbuild_install_build_command
  63. command to use instead of './Build' when we are
  64. in the install stage, for example 'sudo ./Build'
  65. mbuildpl_arg arguments passed to 'perl Build.PL'
  66. ncftp path to external prg
  67. ncftpget path to external prg
  68. no_proxy don't proxy to these hosts/domains (comma separated list)
  69. pager location of external program more (or any pager)
  70. password your password if you CPAN server wants one
  71. patch path to external prg
  72. perl5lib_verbosity verbosity level for PERL5LIB additions
  73. prefer_installer legal values are MB and EUMM: if a module comes
  74. with both a Makefile.PL and a Build.PL, use the
  75. former (EUMM) or the latter (MB); if the module
  76. comes with only one of the two, that one will be
  77. used in any case
  78. prerequisites_policy
  79. what to do if you are missing module prerequisites
  80. ('follow' automatically, 'ask' me, or 'ignore')
  81. prefs_dir local directory to store per-distro build options
  82. proxy_user username for accessing an authenticating proxy
  83. proxy_pass password for accessing an authenticating proxy
  84. randomize_urllist add some randomness to the sequence of the urllist
  85. scan_cache controls scanning of cache ('atstart' or 'never')
  86. shell your favorite shell
  87. show_unparsable_versions
  88. boolean if r command tells which modules are versionless
  89. show_upload_date boolean if commands should try to determine upload date
  90. show_zero_versions boolean if r command tells for which modules $version==0
  91. tar location of external program tar
  92. tar_verbosity verbosity level for the tar command
  93. term_is_latin deprecated: if true Unicode is translated to ISO-8859-1
  94. (and nonsense for characters outside latin range)
  95. term_ornaments boolean to turn ReadLine ornamenting on/off
  96. test_report email test reports (if CPAN::Reporter is installed)
  97. trust_test_report_history
  98. skip testing when previously tested ok (according to
  99. CPAN::Reporter history)
  100. unzip location of external program unzip
  101. urllist arrayref to nearby CPAN sites (or equivalent locations)
  102. use_sqlite use CPAN::SQLite for metadata storage (fast and lean)
  103. username your username if you CPAN server wants one
  104. wait_list arrayref to a wait server to try (See CPAN::WAIT)
  105. wget path to external prg
  106. yaml_load_code enable YAML code deserialisation via CPAN::DeferedCode
  107. yaml_module which module to use to read/write YAML files

You can set and query each of these options interactively in the cpan shell with the o conf or the o conf init command as specified below.

  • o conf <scalar option>

    prints the current value of the scalar option

  • o conf <scalar option> <value>

    Sets the value of the scalar option to value

  • o conf <list option>

    prints the current value of the list option in MakeMaker's neatvalue format.

  • o conf <list option> [shift|pop]

    shifts or pops the array in the list option variable

  • o conf <list option> [unshift|push|splice] <list>

    works like the corresponding perl commands.

  • interactive editing: o conf init [MATCH|LIST]

    Runs an interactive configuration dialog for matching variables. Without argument runs the dialog over all supported config variables. To specify a MATCH the argument must be enclosed by slashes.


    1. o conf init ftp_passive ftp_proxy
    2. o conf init /color/

    Note: this method of setting config variables often provides more explanation about the functioning of a variable than the manpage.

CPAN::anycwd($path): Note on config variable getcwd changes the current working directory often and needs to determine its own current working directory. Per default it uses Cwd::cwd but if this doesn't work on your system for some reason, alternatives can be configured according to the following table:

  • cwd

    Calls Cwd::cwd

  • getcwd

    Calls Cwd::getcwd

  • fastcwd

    Calls Cwd::fastcwd

  • backtickcwd

    Calls the external command cwd.

Note on the format of the urllist parameter

urllist parameters are URLs according to RFC 1738. We do a little guessing if your URL is not compliant, but if you have problems with file URLs, please try the correct format. Either:

  1. file://localhost/whatever/ftp/pub/CPAN/


  1. file:///home/ftp/pub/CPAN/

The urllist parameter has CD-ROM support

The urllist parameter of the configuration table contains a list of URLs that are to be used for downloading. If the list contains any file URLs, CPAN always tries to get files from there first. This feature is disabled for index files. So the recommendation for the owner of a CD-ROM with CPAN contents is: include your local, possibly outdated CD-ROM as a file URL at the end of urllist, e.g.

  1. o conf urllist push file://localhost/CDROM/CPAN will then fetch the index files from one of the CPAN sites that come at the beginning of urllist. It will later check for each module if there is a local copy of the most recent version.

Another peculiarity of urllist is that the site that we could successfully fetch the last file from automatically gets a preference token and is tried as the first site for the next request. So if you add a new site at runtime it may happen that the previously preferred site will be tried another time. This means that if you want to disallow a site for the next transfer, it must be explicitly removed from urllist.

Maintaining the urllist parameter

If you have (or some other YAML module configured in yaml_module ) installed, collects a few statistical data about recent downloads. You can view the statistics with the hosts command or inspect them directly by looking into the FTPstats.yml file in your cpan_home directory.

To get some interesting statistics it is recommended to set the randomize_urllist parameter that introduces some amount of randomness into the URL selection.

The requires and build_requires dependency declarations

Since version 1.88_51 modules declared as build_requires by a distribution are treated differently depending on the config variable build_requires_install_policy . By setting build_requires_install_policy to no such a module is not being installed. It is only built and tested and then kept in the list of tested but uninstalled modules. As such it is available during the build of the dependent module by integrating the path to the blib/arch and blib/lib directories in the environment variable PERL5LIB. If build_requires_install_policy is set ti yes , then both modules declared as requires and those declared as build_requires are treated alike. By setting to ask/yes or ask/no , asks the user and sets the default accordingly.

Configuration for individual distributions (Distroprefs)

(Note: This feature has been introduced in 1.8854 and is still considered beta quality)

Distributions on the CPAN usually behave according to what we call the CPAN mantra. Or since the event of Module::Build we should talk about two mantras:

  1. perl Makefile.PL perl Build.PL
  2. make ./Build
  3. make test ./Build test
  4. make install ./Build install

But some modules cannot be built with this mantra. They try to get some extra data from the user via the environment, extra arguments or interactively thus disturbing the installation of large bundles like Phalanx100 or modules with many dependencies like Plagger.

The distroprefs system of addresses this problem by allowing the user to specify extra informations and recipes in YAML files to either

  • pass additional arguments to one of the four commands,

  • set environment variables

  • instantiate an Expect object that reads from the console, waits for some regular expressions and enters some answers

  • temporarily override assorted configuration variables

  • specify dependencies that the original maintainer forgot to specify

  • disable the installation of an object altogether

See the YAML and Data::Dumper files that come with the distribution in the distroprefs/ directory for examples.


The YAML files themselves must have the .yml extension, all other files are ignored (for two exceptions see Fallback Data::Dumper and Storable below). The containing directory can be specified in in the prefs_dir config variable. Try o conf init prefs_dir in the CPAN shell to set and activate the distroprefs system.

Every YAML file may contain arbitrary documents according to the YAML specification and every single document is treated as an entity that can specify the treatment of a single distribution.

The names of the files can be picked freely, always reads all files (in alphabetical order) and takes the key match (see below in Language Specs) as a hashref containing match criteria that determine if the current distribution matches the YAML document or not.

Fallback Data::Dumper and Storable

If neither your configured yaml_module nor is installed falls back to using Data::Dumper and Storable and looks for files with the extensions .dd or .st in the prefs_dir directory. These files are expected to contain one or more hashrefs. For Data::Dumper generated files, this is expected to be done with by defining $VAR1 , $VAR2 , etc. The YAML shell would produce these with the command

  1. ysh < somefile.yml > somefile.dd

For Storable files the rule is that they must be constructed such that Storable::retrieve(file) returns an array reference and the array elements represent one distropref object each. The conversion from YAML would look like so:

  1. perl -MYAML=LoadFile -MStorable=nstore -e '
  2. @y=LoadFile(shift);
  3. nstore(\@y, shift)' somefile.yml

In bootstrapping situations it is usually sufficient to translate only a few YAML files to Data::Dumper for the crucial modules like YAML::Syck , and . If you prefer Storable over Data::Dumper, remember to pull out a Storable version that writes an older format than all the other Storable versions that will need to read them.


The following example contains all supported keywords and structures with the exception of eexpect which can be used instead of expect .

  1. ---
  2. comment: "Demo"
  3. match:
  4. module: "Dancing::Queen"
  5. distribution: "^CHACHACHA/Dancing-"
  6. perl: "/usr/local/cariba-perl/bin/perl"
  7. perlconfig:
  8. archname: "freebsd"
  9. env:
  10. DANCING_FLOOR: "Shubiduh"
  11. disabled: 1
  12. cpanconfig:
  13. make: gmake
  14. pl:
  15. args:
  16. - "--somearg=specialcase"
  17. env: {}
  18. expect:
  19. - "Which is your favorite fruit"
  20. - "apple\n"
  21. make:
  22. args:
  23. - all
  24. - extra-all
  25. env: {}
  26. expect: []
  27. commendline: "echo SKIPPING make"
  28. test:
  29. args: []
  30. env: {}
  31. expect: []
  32. install:
  33. args: []
  34. env:
  36. expect:
  37. - "Do you really want to install"
  38. - "y\n"
  39. patches:
  40. - "ABCDE/Fedcba-3.14-ABCDE-01.patch"
  41. depends:
  42. configure_requires:
  43. LWP: 5.8
  44. build_requires:
  45. Test::Exception: 0.25
  46. requires:
  47. Spiffy: 0.30

Language Specs

Every YAML document represents a single hash reference. The valid keys in this hash are as follows:

  • comment [scalar]

    A comment

  • cpanconfig [hash]

    Temporarily override assorted configuration variables.

    Supported are: build_requires_install_policy , check_sigs , make , make_install_make_command , prefer_installer , test_report . Please report as a bug when you need another one supported.

  • depends [hash] *** EXPERIMENTAL FEATURE ***

    All three types, namely configure_requires , build_requires , and requires are supported in the way specified in the META.yml specification. The current implementation merges the specified dependencies with those declared by the package maintainer. In a future implementation this may be changed to override the original declaration.

  • disabled [boolean]

    Specifies that this distribution shall not be processed at all.

  • features [array] *** EXPERIMENTAL FEATURE ***

    Experimental implementation to deal with optional_features from META.yml. Still needs coordination with installer software and currently only works for META.yml declaring dynamic_config=0 . Use with caution.

  • goto [string]

    The canonical name of a delegate distribution that shall be installed instead. Useful when a new version, although it tests OK itself, breaks something else or a developer release or a fork is already uploaded that is better than the last released version.

  • install [hash]

    Processing instructions for the make install or ./Build install phase of the CPAN mantra. See below under Processing Instructions.

  • make [hash]

    Processing instructions for the make or ./Build phase of the CPAN mantra. See below under Processing Instructions.

  • match [hash]

    A hashref with one or more of the keys distribution , modules , perl , perlconfig , and env that specify if a document is targeted at a specific CPAN distribution or installation.

    The corresponding values are interpreted as regular expressions. The distribution related one will be matched against the canonical distribution name, e.g. "AUTHOR/Foo-Bar-3.14.tar.gz".

    The module related one will be matched against all modules contained in the distribution until one module matches.

    The perl related one will be matched against $^X (but with the absolute path).

    The value associated with perlconfig is itself a hashref that is matched against corresponding values in the %Config::Config hash living in the module.

    The value associated with env is itself a hashref that is matched against corresponding values in the %ENV hash.

    If more than one restriction of module , distribution , etc. is specified, the results of the separately computed match values must all match. If this is the case then the hashref represented by the YAML document is returned as the preference structure for the current distribution.

  • patches [array]

    An array of patches on CPAN or on the local disk to be applied in order via the external patch program. If the value for the -p parameter is 0 or 1 is determined by reading the patch beforehand.

    Note: if the applypatch program is installed and CPAN::Config knows about it and a patch is written by the makepatch program, then lets applypatch apply the patch. Both makepatch and applypatch are available from CPAN in the JV/makepatch-* distribution.

  • pl [hash]

    Processing instructions for the perl Makefile.PL or perl Build.PL phase of the CPAN mantra. See below under Processing Instructions.

  • test [hash]

    Processing instructions for the make test or ./Build test phase of the CPAN mantra. See below under Processing Instructions.

Processing Instructions

  • args [array]

    Arguments to be added to the command line

  • commandline

    A full commandline that will be executed as it stands by a system call. During the execution the environment variable PERL will is set to $^X (but with an absolute path). If commandline is specified, the content of args is not used.

  • eexpect [hash]

    Extended expect . This is a hash reference with four allowed keys, mode , timeout , reuse , and talk .

    mode may have the values deterministic for the case where all questions come in the order written down and anyorder for the case where the questions may come in any order. The default mode is deterministic .

    timeout denotes a timeout in seconds. Floating point timeouts are OK. In the case of a mode=deterministic the timeout denotes the timeout per question, in the case of mode=anyorder it denotes the timeout per byte received from the stream or questions.

    talk is a reference to an array that contains alternating questions and answers. Questions are regular expressions and answers are literal strings. The Expect module will then watch the stream coming from the execution of the external program (perl Makefile.PL , perl Build.PL , make , etc.).

    In the case of mode=deterministic the will inject the according answer as soon as the stream matches the regular expression.

    In the case of mode=anyorder will answer a question as soon as the timeout is reached for the next byte in the input stream. In this mode you can use the reuse parameter to decide what shall happen with a question-answer pair after it has been used. In the default case (reuse=0) it is removed from the array, so it cannot be used again accidentally. In this case, if you want to answer the question Do you really want to do that several times, then it must be included in the array at least as often as you want this answer to be given. Setting the parameter reuse to 1 makes this repetition unnecessary.

  • env [hash]

    Environment variables to be set during the command

  • expect [array]

    expect: <array> is a short notation for

    1. eexpect:
    2. mode: deterministic
    3. timeout: 15
    4. talk: <array>

Schema verification with Kwalify

If you have the Kwalify module installed (which is part of the Bundle::CPANxxl), then all your distroprefs files are checked for syntactical correctness.

Example Distroprefs Files comes with a collection of example YAML files. Note that these are really just examples and should not be used without care because they cannot fit everybody's purpose. After all the authors of the packages that ask questions had a need to ask, so you should watch their questions and adjust the examples to your environment and your needs. You have beend warned:-)


If you do not enter the shell, the available shell commands are both available as methods (CPAN::Shell->install(...) ) and as functions in the calling package (install(...) ). Before calling low-level commands it makes sense to initialize components of CPAN you need, e.g.:

  1. CPAN::HandleConfig->load;
  2. CPAN::Shell::setup_output;
  3. CPAN::Index->reload;

High-level commands do such initializations automatically.

There's currently only one class that has a stable interface - CPAN::Shell. All commands that are available in the CPAN shell are methods of the class CPAN::Shell. Each of the commands that produce listings of modules (r , autobundle , u ) also return a list of the IDs of all modules within the list.

  • expand($type,@things)

    The IDs of all objects available within a program are strings that can be expanded to the corresponding real objects with the CPAN::Shell->expand("Module",@things) method. Expand returns a list of CPAN::Module objects according to the @things arguments given. In scalar context it only returns the first element of the list.

  • expandany(@things)

    Like expand, but returns objects of the appropriate type, i.e. CPAN::Bundle objects for bundles, CPAN::Module objects for modules and CPAN::Distribution objects for distributions. Note: it does not expand to CPAN::Author objects.

  • Programming Examples

    This enables the programmer to do operations that combine functionalities that are available in the shell.

    1. # install everything that is outdated on my disk:
    2. perl -MCPAN -e 'CPAN::Shell->install(CPAN::Shell->r)'
    3. # install my favorite programs if necessary:
    4. for $mod (qw(Net::FTP Digest::SHA Data::Dumper)) {
    5. CPAN::Shell->install($mod);
    6. }
    7. # list all modules on my disk that have no VERSION number
    8. for $mod (CPAN::Shell->expand("Module","/./")) {
    9. next unless $mod->inst_file;
    10. # MakeMaker convention for undefined $VERSION:
    11. next unless $mod->inst_version eq "undef";
    12. print "No VERSION in ", $mod->id, "\n";
    13. }
    14. # find out which distribution on CPAN contains a module:
    15. print CPAN::Shell->expand("Module","Apache::Constants")->cpan_file

    Or if you want to write a cronjob to watch The CPAN, you could list all modules that need updating. First a quick and dirty way:

    1. perl -e 'use CPAN; CPAN::Shell->r;'

    If you don't want to get any output in the case that all modules are up to date, you can parse the output of above command for the regular expression //modules are up to date// and decide to mail the output only if it doesn't match. Ick?

    If you prefer to do it more in a programmer style in one single process, maybe something like this suits you better:

    1. # list all modules on my disk that have newer versions on CPAN
    2. for $mod (CPAN::Shell->expand("Module","/./")) {
    3. next unless $mod->inst_file;
    4. next if $mod->uptodate;
    5. printf "Module %s is installed as %s, could be updated to %s from CPAN\n",
    6. $mod->id, $mod->inst_version, $mod->cpan_version;
    7. }

    If that gives you too much output every day, you maybe only want to watch for three modules. You can write

    1. for $mod (CPAN::Shell->expand("Module","/Apache|LWP|CGI/")) {

    as the first line instead. Or you can combine some of the above tricks:

    1. # watch only for a new mod_perl module
    2. $mod = CPAN::Shell->expand("Module","mod_perl");
    3. exit if $mod->uptodate;
    4. # new mod_perl arrived, let me know all update recommendations
    5. CPAN::Shell->r;

Methods in the other Classes

  • CPAN::Author::as_glimpse()

    Returns a one-line description of the author

  • CPAN::Author::as_string()

    Returns a multi-line description of the author

  • CPAN::Author::email()

    Returns the author's email address

  • CPAN::Author::fullname()

    Returns the author's name

  • CPAN::Author::name()

    An alias for fullname

  • CPAN::Bundle::as_glimpse()

    Returns a one-line description of the bundle

  • CPAN::Bundle::as_string()

    Returns a multi-line description of the bundle

  • CPAN::Bundle::clean()

    Recursively runs the clean method on all items contained in the bundle.

  • CPAN::Bundle::contains()

    Returns a list of objects' IDs contained in a bundle. The associated objects may be bundles, modules or distributions.

  • CPAN::Bundle::force($method,@args)

    Forces CPAN to perform a task that it normally would have refused to do. Force takes as arguments a method name to be called and any number of additional arguments that should be passed to the called method. The internals of the object get the needed changes so that does not refuse to take the action. The force is passed recursively to all contained objects. See also the section above on the force and the fforce pragma.

  • CPAN::Bundle::get()

    Recursively runs the get method on all items contained in the bundle

  • CPAN::Bundle::inst_file()

    Returns the highest installed version of the bundle in either @INC or $CPAN::Config- {cpan_home}>. Note that this is different from CPAN::Module::inst_file.

  • CPAN::Bundle::inst_version()

    Like CPAN::Bundle::inst_file, but returns the $VERSION

  • CPAN::Bundle::uptodate()

    Returns 1 if the bundle itself and all its members are uptodate.

  • CPAN::Bundle::install()

    Recursively runs the install method on all items contained in the bundle

  • CPAN::Bundle::make()

    Recursively runs the make method on all items contained in the bundle

  • CPAN::Bundle::readme()

    Recursively runs the readme method on all items contained in the bundle

  • CPAN::Bundle::test()

    Recursively runs the test method on all items contained in the bundle

  • CPAN::Distribution::as_glimpse()

    Returns a one-line description of the distribution

  • CPAN::Distribution::as_string()

    Returns a multi-line description of the distribution

  • CPAN::Distribution::author

    Returns the CPAN::Author object of the maintainer who uploaded this distribution

  • CPAN::Distribution::pretty_id()

    Returns a string of the form "AUTHORID/TARBALL", where AUTHORID is the author's PAUSE ID and TARBALL is the distribution filename.

  • CPAN::Distribution::base_id()

    Returns the distribution filename without any archive suffix. E.g "Foo-Bar-0.01"

  • CPAN::Distribution::clean()

    Changes to the directory where the distribution has been unpacked and runs make clean there.

  • CPAN::Distribution::containsmods()

    Returns a list of IDs of modules contained in a distribution file. Only works for distributions listed in the 02packages.details.txt.gz file. This typically means that only the most recent version of a distribution is covered.

  • CPAN::Distribution::cvs_import()

    Changes to the directory where the distribution has been unpacked and runs something like

    1. cvs -d $cvs_root import -m $cvs_log $cvs_dir $userid v$version


  • CPAN::Distribution::dir()

    Returns the directory into which this distribution has been unpacked.

  • CPAN::Distribution::force($method,@args)

    Forces CPAN to perform a task that it normally would have refused to do. Force takes as arguments a method name to be called and any number of additional arguments that should be passed to the called method. The internals of the object get the needed changes so that does not refuse to take the action. See also the section above on the force and the fforce pragma.

  • CPAN::Distribution::get()

    Downloads the distribution from CPAN and unpacks it. Does nothing if the distribution has already been downloaded and unpacked within the current session.

  • CPAN::Distribution::install()

    Changes to the directory where the distribution has been unpacked and runs the external command make install there. If make has not yet been run, it will be run first. A make test will be issued in any case and if this fails, the install will be canceled. The cancellation can be avoided by letting force run the install for you.

    This install method has only the power to install the distribution if there are no dependencies in the way. To install an object and all of its dependencies, use CPAN::Shell->install.

    Note that install() gives no meaningful return value. See uptodate().

  • CPAN::Distribution::install_tested()

    Install all the distributions that have been tested sucessfully but not yet installed. See also is_tested .

  • CPAN::Distribution::isa_perl()

    Returns 1 if this distribution file seems to be a perl distribution. Normally this is derived from the file name only, but the index from CPAN can contain a hint to achieve a return value of true for other filenames too.

  • CPAN::Distribution::look()

    Changes to the directory where the distribution has been unpacked and opens a subshell there. Exiting the subshell returns.

  • CPAN::Distribution::make()

    First runs the get method to make sure the distribution is downloaded and unpacked. Changes to the directory where the distribution has been unpacked and runs the external commands perl Makefile.PL or perl Build.PL and make there.

  • CPAN::Distribution::perldoc()

    Downloads the pod documentation of the file associated with a distribution (in html format) and runs it through the external command lynx specified in $CPAN::Config- {lynx}>. If lynx isn't available, it converts it to plain text with external command html2text and runs it through the pager specified in $CPAN::Config- {pager}>

  • CPAN::Distribution::prefs()

    Returns the hash reference from the first matching YAML file that the user has deposited in the prefs_dir/ directory. The first succeeding match wins. The files in the prefs_dir/ are processed alphabetically and the canonical distroname (e.g. AUTHOR/Foo-Bar-3.14.tar.gz) is matched against the regular expressions stored in the $root->{match}{distribution} attribute value. Additionally all module names contained in a distribution are matched agains the regular expressions in the $root->{match}{module} attribute value. The two match values are ANDed together. Each of the two attributes are optional.

  • CPAN::Distribution::prereq_pm()

    Returns the hash reference that has been announced by a distribution as the the requires and build_requires elements. These can be declared either by the META.yml (if authoritative) or can be deposited after the run of Build.PL in the file ./_build/prereqs or after the run of Makfile.PL written as the PREREQ_PM hash in a comment in the produced Makefile . Note: this method only works after an attempt has been made to make the distribution. Returns undef otherwise.

  • CPAN::Distribution::readme()

    Downloads the README file associated with a distribution and runs it through the pager specified in $CPAN::Config- {pager}>.

  • CPAN::Distribution::reports()

    Downloads report data for this distribution from and displays a subset of them.

  • CPAN::Distribution::read_yaml()

    Returns the content of the META.yml of this distro as a hashref. Note: works only after an attempt has been made to make the distribution. Returns undef otherwise. Also returns undef if the content of META.yml is not authoritative. (The rules about what exactly makes the content authoritative are still in flux.)

  • CPAN::Distribution::test()

    Changes to the directory where the distribution has been unpacked and runs make test there.

  • CPAN::Distribution::uptodate()

    Returns 1 if all the modules contained in the distribution are uptodate. Relies on containsmods.

  • CPAN::Index::force_reload()

    Forces a reload of all indices.

  • CPAN::Index::reload()

    Reloads all indices if they have not been read for more than $CPAN::Config- {index_expire}> days.

  • CPAN::InfoObj::dump()

    CPAN::Author, CPAN::Bundle, CPAN::Module, and CPAN::Distribution inherit this method. It prints the data structure associated with an object. Useful for debugging. Note: the data structure is considered internal and thus subject to change without notice.

  • CPAN::Module::as_glimpse()

    Returns a one-line description of the module in four columns: The first column contains the word Module , the second column consists of one character: an equals sign if this module is already installed and uptodate, a less-than sign if this module is installed but can be upgraded, and a space if the module is not installed. The third column is the name of the module and the fourth column gives maintainer or distribution information.

  • CPAN::Module::as_string()

    Returns a multi-line description of the module

  • CPAN::Module::clean()

    Runs a clean on the distribution associated with this module.

  • CPAN::Module::cpan_file()

    Returns the filename on CPAN that is associated with the module.

  • CPAN::Module::cpan_version()

    Returns the latest version of this module available on CPAN.

  • CPAN::Module::cvs_import()

    Runs a cvs_import on the distribution associated with this module.

  • CPAN::Module::description()

    Returns a 44 character description of this module. Only available for modules listed in The Module List (CPAN/modules/00modlist.long.html or 00modlist.long.txt.gz)

  • CPAN::Module::distribution()

    Returns the CPAN::Distribution object that contains the current version of this module.

  • CPAN::Module::dslip_status()

    Returns a hash reference. The keys of the hash are the letters D , S , L , I , and <P>, for development status, support level, language, interface and public licence respectively. The data for the DSLIP status are collected by when authors register their namespaces. The values of the 5 hash elements are one-character words whose meaning is described in the table below. There are also 5 hash elements DV , SV , LV , IV , and <PV> that carry a more verbose value of the 5 status variables.

    Where the 'DSLIP' characters have the following meanings:

    1. D - Development Stage (Note: *NO IMPLIED TIMESCALES*):
    2. i - Idea, listed to gain consensus or as a placeholder
    3. c - under construction but pre-alpha (not yet released)
    4. a/b - Alpha/Beta testing
    5. R - Released
    6. M - Mature (no rigorous definition)
    7. S - Standard, supplied with Perl 5
    8. S - Support Level:
    9. m - Mailing-list
    10. d - Developer
    11. u - Usenet newsgroup comp.lang.perl.modules
    12. n - None known, try comp.lang.perl.modules
    13. a - abandoned; volunteers welcome to take over maintainance
    14. L - Language Used:
    15. p - Perl-only, no compiler needed, should be platform independent
    16. c - C and perl, a C compiler will be needed
    17. h - Hybrid, written in perl with optional C code, no compiler needed
    18. + - C++ and perl, a C++ compiler will be needed
    19. o - perl and another language other than C or C++
    20. I - Interface Style
    21. f - plain Functions, no references used
    22. h - hybrid, object and function interfaces available
    23. n - no interface at all (huh?)
    24. r - some use of unblessed References or ties
    25. O - Object oriented using blessed references and/or inheritance
    26. P - Public License
    27. p - Standard-Perl: user may choose between GPL and Artistic
    28. g - GPL: GNU General Public License
    29. l - LGPL: "GNU Lesser General Public License" (previously known as
    30. "GNU Library General Public License")
    31. b - BSD: The BSD License
    32. a - Artistic license alone
    33. 2 - Artistic license 2.0 or later
    34. o - open source: appoved by
    35. d - allows distribution without restrictions
    36. r - restricted distribtion
    37. n - no license at all
  • CPAN::Module::force($method,@args)

    Forces CPAN to perform a task that it normally would have refused to do. Force takes as arguments a method name to be called and any number of additional arguments that should be passed to the called method. The internals of the object get the needed changes so that does not refuse to take the action. See also the section above on the force and the fforce pragma.

  • CPAN::Module::get()

    Runs a get on the distribution associated with this module.

  • CPAN::Module::inst_file()

    Returns the filename of the module found in @INC. The first file found is reported just like perl itself stops searching @INC when it finds a module.

  • CPAN::Module::available_file()

    Returns the filename of the module found in PERL5LIB or @INC. The first file found is reported. The advantage of this method over inst_file is that modules that have been tested but not yet installed are included because PERL5LIB keeps track of tested modules.

  • CPAN::Module::inst_version()

    Returns the version number of the installed module in readable format.

  • CPAN::Module::available_version()

    Returns the version number of the available module in readable format.

  • CPAN::Module::install()

    Runs an install on the distribution associated with this module.

  • CPAN::Module::look()

    Changes to the directory where the distribution associated with this module has been unpacked and opens a subshell there. Exiting the subshell returns.

  • CPAN::Module::make()

    Runs a make on the distribution associated with this module.

  • CPAN::Module::manpage_headline()

    If module is installed, peeks into the module's manpage, reads the headline and returns it. Moreover, if the module has been downloaded within this session, does the equivalent on the downloaded module even if it is not installed.

  • CPAN::Module::perldoc()

    Runs a perldoc on this module.

  • CPAN::Module::readme()

    Runs a readme on the distribution associated with this module.

  • CPAN::Module::reports()

    Calls the reports() method on the associated distribution object.

  • CPAN::Module::test()

    Runs a test on the distribution associated with this module.

  • CPAN::Module::uptodate()

    Returns 1 if the module is installed and up-to-date.

  • CPAN::Module::userid()

    Returns the author's ID of the module.

Cache Manager

Currently the cache manager only keeps track of the build directory ($CPAN::Config->{build_dir}). It is a simple FIFO mechanism that deletes complete directories below build_dir as soon as the size of all directories there gets bigger than $CPAN::Config->{build_cache} (in MB). The contents of this cache may be used for later re-installations that you intend to do manually, but will never be trusted by CPAN itself. This is due to the fact that the user might use these directories for building modules on different architectures.

There is another directory ($CPAN::Config->{keep_source_where}) where the original distribution files are kept. This directory is not covered by the cache manager and must be controlled by the user. If you choose to have the same directory as build_dir and as keep_source_where directory, then your sources will be deleted with the same fifo mechanism.


A bundle is just a perl module in the namespace Bundle:: that does not define any functions or methods. It usually only contains documentation.

It starts like a perl module with a package declaration and a $VERSION variable. After that the pod section looks like any other pod with the only difference being that one special pod section exists starting with (verbatim):

  1. =head1 CONTENTS

In this pod section each line obeys the format

  1. Module_Name [Version_String] [- optional text]

The only required part is the first field, the name of a module (e.g. Foo::Bar, ie. not the name of the distribution file). The rest of the line is optional. The comment part is delimited by a dash just as in the man page header.

The distribution of a bundle should follow the same convention as other distributions.

Bundles are treated specially in the CPAN package. If you say 'install Bundle::Tkkit' (assuming such a bundle exists), CPAN will install all the modules in the CONTENTS section of the pod. You can install your own Bundles locally by placing a conformant Bundle file somewhere into your @INC path. The autobundle() command which is available in the shell interface does that for you by including all currently installed modules in a snapshot bundle file.


If you have a local mirror of CPAN and can access all files with "file:" URLs, then you only need a perl better than perl5.003 to run this module. Otherwise Net::FTP is strongly recommended. LWP may be required for non-UNIX systems or if your nearest CPAN site is associated with a URL that is not ftp: .

If you have neither Net::FTP nor LWP, there is a fallback mechanism implemented for an external ftp command or for an external lynx command.


Finding packages and VERSION

This module presumes that all packages on CPAN

  • declare their $VERSION variable in an easy to parse manner. This prerequisite can hardly be relaxed because it consumes far too much memory to load all packages into the running program just to determine the $VERSION variable. Currently all programs that are dealing with version use something like this

    1. perl -MExtUtils::MakeMaker -le \
    2. 'print MM->parse_version(shift)' filename

    If you are author of a package and wonder if your $VERSION can be parsed, please try the above method.

  • come as compressed or gzipped tarfiles or as zip files and contain a Makefile.PL or Build.PL (well, we try to handle a bit more, but without much enthusiasm).


The debugging of this module is a bit complex, because we have interferences of the software producing the indices on CPAN, of the mirroring process on CPAN, of packaging, of configuration, of synchronicity, and of bugs within

For debugging the code of itself in interactive mode some more or less useful debugging aid can be turned on for most packages within with one of

  • o debug package...

    sets debug mode for packages.

  • o debug -package...

    unsets debug mode for packages.

  • o debug all

    turns debugging on for all packages.

  • o debug number

which sets the debugging packages directly. Note that o debug 0 turns debugging off.

What seems quite a successful strategy is the combination of reload cpan and the debugging switches. Add a new debug statement while running in the shell and then issue a reload cpan and see the new debugging messages immediately without losing the current context.

o debug without an argument lists the valid package names and the current set of packages in debugging mode. o debug has built-in completion support.

For debugging of CPAN data there is the dump command which takes the same arguments as make/test/install and outputs each object's Data::Dumper dump. If an argument looks like a perl variable and contains one of $ , @ or % , it is eval()ed and fed to Data::Dumper directly.

Floppy, Zip, Offline Mode works nicely without network too. If you maintain machines that are not networked at all, you should consider working with file: URLs. Of course, you have to collect your modules somewhere first. So you might use to put together all you need on a networked machine. Then copy the $CPAN::Config->{keep_source_where} (but not $CPAN::Config->{build_dir}) directory on a floppy. This floppy is kind of a personal CPAN. on the non-networked machines works nicely with this floppy. See also below the paragraph about CD-ROM support.

Basic Utilities for Programmers

  • has_inst($module)

    Returns true if the module is installed. Used to load all modules into the running which are considered optional. The config variable dontload_list can be used to intercept the has_inst() call such that an optional module is not loaded despite being available. For example the following command will prevent that is being loaded:

    1. cpan> o conf dontload_list push YAML

    See the source for details.

  • has_usable($module)

    Returns true if the module is installed and is in a usable state. Only useful for a handful of modules that are used internally. See the source for details.

  • instance($module)

    The constructor for all the singletons used to represent modules, distributions, authors and bundles. If the object already exists, this method returns the object, otherwise it calls the constructor.


There's no strong security layer in helps you to install foreign, unmasked, unsigned code on your machine. We compare to a checksum that comes from the net just as the distribution file itself. But we try to make it easy to add security on demand:

Cryptographically signed modules

Since release 1.77 has been able to verify cryptographically signed module distributions using Module::Signature. The CPAN modules can be signed by their authors, thus giving more security. The simple unsigned MD5 checksums that were used before by CPAN protect mainly against accidental file corruption.

You will need to have Module::Signature installed, which in turn requires that you have at least one of Crypt::OpenPGP module or the command-line gpg tool installed.

You will also need to be able to connect over the Internet to the public keyservers, like, and their port 11731 (the HKP protocol).

The configuration parameter check_sigs is there to turn signature checking on or off.


Most functions in package CPAN are exported per default. The reason for this is that the primary use is intended for the cpan shell or for one-liners.


When the CPAN shell enters a subshell via the look command, it sets the environment CPAN_SHELL_LEVEL to 1 or increments it if it is already set.

When CPAN runs, it sets the environment variable PERL5_CPAN_IS_RUNNING to the ID of the running process. It also sets PERL5_CPANPLUS_IS_RUNNING to prevent runaway processes which could happen with older versions of Module::Install.

When running perl Makefile.PL , the environment variable PERL5_CPAN_IS_EXECUTING is set to the full path of the Makefile.PL that is being executed. This prevents runaway processes with newer versions of Module::Install.

When the config variable ftp_passive is set, all downloads will be run with the environment variable FTP_PASSIVE set to this value. This is in general a good idea as it influences both Net::FTP and LWP based connections. The same effect can be achieved by starting the cpan shell with this environment variable set. For Net::FTP alone, one can also always set passive mode by running libnetcfg.


Populating a freshly installed perl with my favorite modules is pretty easy if you maintain a private bundle definition file. To get a useful blueprint of a bundle definition file, the command autobundle can be used on the CPAN shell command line. This command writes a bundle definition file for all modules that are installed for the currently running perl interpreter. It's recommended to run this command only once and from then on maintain the file manually under a private name, say Bundle/ With a clever bundle file you can then simply say

  1. cpan> install Bundle::my_bundle

then answer a few questions and then go out for a coffee.

Maintaining a bundle definition file means keeping track of two things: dependencies and interactivity. sometimes fails on calculating dependencies because not all modules define all MakeMaker attributes correctly, so a bundle definition file should specify prerequisites as early as possible. On the other hand, it's a bit annoying that many distributions need some interactive configuring. So what I try to accomplish in my private bundle file is to have the packages that need to be configured early in the file and the gentle ones later, so I can go out after a few minutes and leave untended.


Thanks to Graham Barr for contributing the following paragraphs about the interaction between perl, and various firewall configurations. For further information on firewalls, it is recommended to consult the documentation that comes with the ncftp program. If you are unable to go through the firewall with a simple Perl setup, it is very likely that you can configure ncftp so that it works for your firewall.

Three basic types of firewalls

Firewalls can be categorized into three basic types.

  • http firewall

    This is where the firewall machine runs a web server and to access the outside world you must do it via the web server. If you set environment variables like http_proxy or ftp_proxy to a values beginning with http:// or in your web browser you have to set proxy information then you know you are running an http firewall.

    To access servers outside these types of firewalls with perl (even for ftp) you will need to use LWP.

  • ftp firewall

    This where the firewall machine runs an ftp server. This kind of firewall will only let you access ftp servers outside the firewall. This is usually done by connecting to the firewall with ftp, then entering a username like ""

    To access servers outside these type of firewalls with perl you will need to use Net::FTP.

  • One way visibility

    I say one way visibility as these firewalls try to make themselves look invisible to the users inside the firewall. An FTP data connection is normally created by sending the remote server your IP address and then listening for the connection. But the remote server will not be able to connect to you because of the firewall. So for these types of firewall FTP connections need to be done in a passive mode.

    There are two that I can think off.

    • SOCKS

      If you are using a SOCKS firewall you will need to compile perl and link it with the SOCKS library, this is what is normally called a 'socksified' perl. With this executable you will be able to connect to servers outside the firewall as if it is not there.

    • IP Masquerade

      This is the firewall implemented in the Linux kernel, it allows you to hide a complete network behind one IP address. With this firewall no special compiling is needed as you can access hosts directly.

      For accessing ftp servers behind such firewalls you usually need to set the environment variable FTP_PASSIVE or the config variable ftp_passive to a true value.

Configuring lynx or ncftp for going through a firewall

If you can go through your firewall with e.g. lynx, presumably with a command such as

  1. /usr/local/bin/lynx -pscott:tiger

then you would configure with the command

  1. o conf lynx "/usr/local/bin/lynx -pscott:tiger"

That's all. Similarly for ncftp or ftp, you would configure something like

  1. o conf ncftp "/usr/bin/ncftp -f /home/scott/ncftplogin.cfg"

Your mileage may vary...



I installed a new version of module X but CPAN keeps saying, I have the old version installed

Most probably you do have the old version installed. This can happen if a module installs itself into a different directory in the @INC path than it was previously installed. This is not really a problem, you would have the same problem when installing the module manually. The easiest way to prevent this behaviour is to add the argument UNINST=1 to the make install call, and that is why many people add this argument permanently by configuring

  1. o conf make_install_arg UNINST=1

So why is UNINST=1 not the default?

Because there are people who have their precise expectations about who may install where in the @INC path and who uses which @INC array. In fine tuned environments UNINST=1 can cause damage.


I want to clean up my mess, and install a new perl along with all modules I have. How do I go about it?

Run the autobundle command for your old perl and optionally rename the resulting bundle file (e.g. Bundle/, install the new perl with the Configure option prefix, e.g.

  1. ./Configure -Dprefix=/usr/local/perl-

Install the bundle file you produced in the first step with something like

  1. cpan> install Bundle::mybundle

and you're done.


When I install bundles or multiple modules with one command there is too much output to keep track of.

You may want to configure something like

  1. o conf make_arg "| tee -ai /root/.cpan/logs/make.out"
  2. o conf make_install_arg "| tee -ai /root/.cpan/logs/make_install.out"

so that STDOUT is captured in a file for later inspection.


I am not root, how can I install a module in a personal directory?

First of all, you will want to use your own configuration, not the one that your root user installed. If you do not have permission to write in the cpan directory that root has configured, you will be asked if you want to create your own config. Answering "yes" will bring you into CPAN's configuration stage, using the system config for all defaults except things that have to do with CPAN's work directory, saving your choices to your file.

You can also manually initiate this process with the following command:

  1. % perl -MCPAN -e 'mkmyconfig'

or by running

  1. mkmyconfig

from the CPAN shell.

You will most probably also want to configure something like this:

  1. o conf makepl_arg "LIB=~/myperl/lib \
  2. INSTALLMAN1DIR=~/myperl/man/man1 \
  3. INSTALLMAN3DIR=~/myperl/man/man3 \
  4. INSTALLSCRIPT=~/myperl/bin \
  5. INSTALLBIN=~/myperl/bin"

and then (oh joy) the equivalent command for Module::Build. That would be

  1. o conf mbuildpl_arg "--lib=~/myperl/lib \
  2. --installman1dir=~/myperl/man/man1 \
  3. --installman3dir=~/myperl/man/man3 \
  4. --installscript=~/myperl/bin \
  5. --installbin=~/myperl/bin"

You can make this setting permanent like all o conf settings with o conf commit or by setting auto_commit beforehand.

You will have to add ~/myperl/man to the MANPATH environment variable and also tell your perl programs to look into ~/myperl/lib, e.g. by including

  1. use lib "$ENV{HOME}/myperl/lib";

or setting the PERL5LIB environment variable.

While we're speaking about $ENV{HOME}, it might be worth mentioning, that for Windows we use the File::HomeDir module that provides an equivalent to the concept of the home directory on Unix.

Another thing you should bear in mind is that the UNINST parameter can be dangerous when you are installing into a private area because you might accidentally remove modules that other people depend on that are not using the private area.


How to get a package, unwrap it, and make a change before building it?

Have a look at the look (!) command.


I installed a Bundle and had a couple of fails. When I retried, everything resolved nicely. Can this be fixed to work on first try?

The reason for this is that CPAN does not know the dependencies of all modules when it starts out. To decide about the additional items to install, it just uses data found in the META.yml file or the generated Makefile. An undetected missing piece breaks the process. But it may well be that your Bundle installs some prerequisite later than some depending item and thus your second try is able to resolve everything. Please note, does not know the dependency tree in advance and cannot sort the queue of things to install in a topologically correct order. It resolves perfectly well IF all modules declare the prerequisites correctly with the PREREQ_PM attribute to MakeMaker or the requires stanza of Module::Build. For bundles which fail and you need to install often, it is recommended to sort the Bundle definition file manually.


In our intranet we have many modules for internal use. How can I integrate these modules with but without uploading the modules to CPAN?

Have a look at the CPAN::Site module.


When I run CPAN's shell, I get an error message about things in my /etc/inputrc (or ~/.inputrc) file.

These are readline issues and can only be fixed by studying readline configuration on your architecture and adjusting the referenced file accordingly. Please make a backup of the /etc/inputrc or ~/.inputrc and edit them. Quite often harmless changes like uppercasing or lowercasing some arguments solves the problem.


Some authors have strange characters in their names.

Internally uses the UTF-8 charset. If your terminal is expecting ISO-8859-1 charset, a converter can be activated by setting term_is_latin to a true value in your config file. One way of doing so would be

  1. cpan> o conf term_is_latin 1

If other charset support is needed, please file a bugreport against at and describe your needs. Maybe we can extend the support or maybe UTF-8 terminals become widely available.

Note: this config variable is deprecated and will be removed in a future version of It will be replaced with the conventions around the family of $LANG and $LC_* environment variables.


When an install fails for some reason and then I correct the error condition and retry, refuses to install the module, saying Already tried without success .

Use the force pragma like so

  1. force install Foo::Bar

Or you can use

  1. look Foo::Bar

and then 'make install' directly in the subshell.


How do I install a "DEVELOPER RELEASE" of a module?

By default, CPAN will install the latest non-developer release of a module. If you want to install a dev release, you have to specify the partial path starting with the author id to the tarball you wish to install, like so:

  1. cpan> install KWILLIAMS/Module-Build-0.27_07.tar.gz

Note that you can use the ls command to get this path listed.


How do I install a module and all its dependencies from the commandline, without being prompted for anything, despite my CPAN configuration (or lack thereof)?

CPAN uses ExtUtils::MakeMaker's prompt() function to ask its questions, so if you set the PERL_MM_USE_DEFAULT environment variable, you shouldn't be asked any questions at all (assuming the modules you are installing are nice about obeying that variable as well):

  1. % PERL_MM_USE_DEFAULT=1 perl -MCPAN -e 'install My::Module'

How do I create a Module::Build based Build.PL derived from an ExtUtils::MakeMaker focused Makefile.PL?


I'm frequently irritated with the CPAN shell's inability to help me select a good mirror.

The urllist config parameter is yours. You can add and remove sites at will. You should find out which sites have the best uptodateness, bandwidth, reliability, etc. and are topologically close to you. Some people prefer fast downloads, others uptodateness, others reliability. You decide which to try in which order.

Henk P. Penning maintains a site that collects data about CPAN sites:


Also, feel free to play with experimental features. Run

  1. o conf init randomize_urllist ftpstats_period ftpstats_size

and choose your favorite parameters. After a few downloads running the hosts command will probably assist you in choosing the best mirror sites.


Why do I get asked the same questions every time I start the shell?

You can make your configuration changes permanent by calling the command o conf commit . Alternatively set the auto_commit variable to true by running o conf init auto_commit and answering the following question with yes.


Older versions of had the original root directory of all tarballs in the build directory. Now there are always random characters appended to these directory names. Why was this done?

The random characters are provided by File::Temp and ensure that each module's individual build directory is unique. This makes running in concurrent processes simultaneously safe.


Speaking of the build directory. Do I have to clean it up myself?

You have the choice to set the config variable scan_cache to never . Then you must clean it up yourself. The other possible value, atstart only cleans up the build directory when you start the CPAN shell. If you never start up the CPAN shell, you probably also have to clean up the build directory yourself.


OLD PERL VERSIONS is regularly tested to run under 5.004, 5.005, and assorted newer versions. It is getting more and more difficult to get the minimal prerequisites working on older perls. It is close to impossible to get the whole Bundle::CPAN working there. If you're in the position to have only these old versions, be advised that CPAN is designed to work fine without the Bundle::CPAN installed.

To get things going, note that GBARR/Scalar-List-Utils-1.18.tar.gz is compatible with ancient perls and that File::Temp is listed as a prerequisite but CPAN has reasonable workarounds if it is missing.


This module and its competitor, the CPANPLUS module, are both much cooler than the other. is older. CPANPLUS was designed to be more modular but it was never tried to make it compatible with


This software enables you to upgrade software on your computer and so is inherently dangerous because the newly installed software may contain bugs and may alter the way your computer works or even make it unusable. Please consider backing up your data before every upgrade.


Please report bugs via

Before submitting a bug, please make sure that the traditional method of building a Perl module package from a shell by following the installation instructions of that package still works in your environment.


Andreas Koenig <>


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



Kawai,Takanori provides a Japanese translation of this manpage at


cpan, CPAN::Nox, CPAN::Version