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1.4. What You Need

To get the most of this book, you will need some technical background and some resources at hand. Let's start with the background first:

You'll need to know some Perl

There isn't enough room in this book to provide the basics of the Perl language, so you need to seek that elsewhere before working through this material. Once you have learned the material in a book like Learning Perl, by Randal L. Schwartz and Tom Christiansen (O'Reilly), or Learning Perl on Win32 Systems, by Randal L. Schwartz, Erik Olson, and Tom Christiansen (O'Reilly), you should be in good shape to approach the code in this book.

You'll need to know the basics of your operating system(s)

This book assumes that you have some facility with the operating system or systems you plan to administer. You'll need to know how to get around in that OS, run commands, find documentation, etc. Background information on the more complex frameworks built into the OS (e.g., WMI on Windows 2000 or SNMP) is provided.

You may need to know the specifics of your operating system(s)

I make an attempt to describe the differences between the major operating systems as we encounter them, but I can't cover all of the intra-OS differences. In particular, every variant of Unix is a little different from all of the others. As a result, you may need to find OS-specific information and roll with the punches should the information be different than what is described here.

For technical resources, you will need just two things:


You will need a copy of Perl installed on or available to every system you wish to administer. The downloads section of http://www.perl.com will help you find either the source code or binary distributions for your particular operating system. The examples in this book use Perl Version 5.005 (the latest stable version as of this writing). On Unix we use the core Perl distribution compiled from source, on Win32 platforms we use the version provided by ActiveState (build 522) and on MacOS we use the MacPerl distribution (5.2.0r4).

The ability to find and install Perl modules

The next section of this chapter is devoted to the location and installation of Perl modules because this skill is extremely important. This book assumes you have the knowledge and necessary permission to install any modules you need.

At the end of each chapter is a list of the version numbers for all of the modules used by the code in that chapter. The version information is provided because modules are updated all the time. Not all updates retain backwards compatibility, so if you run into problems, this information can help you determine if there has been a module change since this book was published.

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