Perl (Version 5.8.5)

Perl is an interpreted language optimized for scanning arbitrary text files, extracting information from those text files, and printing reports based on that information. It's also a good language for many system management tasks. The language is intended to be practical (easy to use, efficient, complete) rather than beautiful (tiny, elegant, minimal). It combines (in the author's opinion, anyway) some of the best features of C, sed, awk, and sh, so people familiar with those languages should have little difficulty with it. Expression syntax corresponds quite closely to C expression syntax. Unlike most Unix utilities, Perl does not arbitrarily limit the size of your data - if you've got the memory, Perl can slurp in your whole file as a single string. Recursion is of unlimited depth. And the hash tables used by associative arrays grow as necessary to prevent degraded performance. Perl uses sophisticated pattern matching techniques to scan large amounts of data very quickly. Although optimized for scanning text, Perl can also deal with binary data, and can make dbm files look like associative arrays. Setuid Perl scripts are safer than C programs through a dataflow tracing mechanism which prevents many stupid security holes. If you have a problem that would ordinarily use sed or awk or sh, but it exceeds their capabilities or must run a little faster, and you don't want to write the silly thing in C, then Perl may be for you. There are also translators s2p and a2p to turn your sed and awk scripts into Perl scripts.

Documentation

You can still use the supplied perldoc script to look up Perl documentation in .pod format in the directory /usr/lib/perl5/5.8.5/Pod/:

$ perldoc <PageName|ModuleName|ProgramName>

E. g., type

% perldoc perldoc

to get aquainted with the system.