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1.4 Support

Perl is the child of Larry Wall, and is still being coddled by him. Bug reports and requests for enhancements generally get fixed in later releases, but he is under no obligation to do anything with them. Nevertheless, Larry really does enjoy hearing from all of us, and does truly like to see Perl be useful to the world at large. Direct email generally gets a response (even if it is merely his email answering machine), and sometimes a personal response. These days, Larry is actually acting as an architect to the "Perl 5 Porters" group, a bunch of very clever people that have had a lot to do with the last few Perl releases. If Larry got hit by a bus, everyone would be very sad for a long time, but Perl would still continue to mature under the direction of this group.

You will probably find that your best bet for support comes from the global online Perl community, accessible via the Usenet newsgroup comp.lang.perl.misc . If you are emailable to the Internet, but not amenable to Usenet, you can also wire yourself into this group by sending a request to , which will reach a human who can connect you to a two-way email gateway into the group, and give you guidelines on how the group works.

When you subscribe to the newsgroup, you'll find roughly 50 to 200 postings a day (at the time of this writing) on all manner of subjects from beginner questions to complicated porting issues and interface problems, and even a fairly large program or two.

The newsgroup is almost constantly monitored by many Perl experts. Most of the time, your question gets answered within minutes of your news article reaching a major Usenet hub. Just try getting that level of support from your favorite software vendor for free! Larry himself reads the group as time permits, and has been known to interject authoritative articles to end bickering or clarify a point. After all, without Usenet, there probably wouldn't have been a place to easily announce Perl to the world.

In addition to the newsgroup, you should also be reading the Perl documentation which comes with the Perl distribution. Another authoritative source is the Programming Perl Nutshell Handbook, by Larry Wall, Tom Christiansen, and Randal L. Schwartz (O'Reilly & Associates, 1996). Programming Perl is known as " The Camel Book" because of the animal on its cover. The Camel Book contains the complete reference information, some tutorial stuff, and a bunch of miscellaneous information about Perl in a nicely bound form.

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list for Perl is a great source of answers for common questions that arise about Perl. The FAQ is available in the perlfaq documentation page as of the 5.004 release of Perl, is posted periodically to the moderated c omp.lang.perl.announce newsgroup, and can also be found on any CPAN mirror under the doc/FAQs directory.

Finally, for specific issues concerning Perl for Win32, a trio of mailing lists is available: Perl-Win32-Users, Perl-Win32-Porters, and Perl-Win32-Announce. Perl-Win32-Users[ 4 ] is for general questions on installation and usage. This list has moderate traffic at times and can be a valuable resource for Perl-for-Win32 users. The Perl-Win32-Porters list is for development and porting issues only. Please do not ask installation or usage questions of this list. The Perl-Win32-Announce list is for announcements of new builds, bugs, or issues, and is a read-only list. The traffic is very light, and if you're serious about Perl for Win32, you probably want to subscribe to this list.

[4] This list has a history of down time. If it seems to be down for a few days, try resubscribing or wait a while. It usually starts working again.

To subscribe to any of the Perl-for-Win32 lists, send a message to with the message SUBSCRIBE Perl-Win32-Users (or whichever list you're interested in) in the body of the message.

Even though the Perl community is largely a helpful and collaborative group, they do expect you to do your homework before asking questions. You should always search the applicable FAQs before posting your question to the Usenet or a mailing list. You can find the Perl-for-Win32 FAQ at http://www.endcontsw.com/people/evangelo/Perl_for_Win32_FAQ.html , or by searching around at the ActiveState site ( http://www.activestate.com ). You can find the general Perl FAQs at any CPAN site (try the /doc/FAQs ) directory.