Moving to a Mac... which Perl?

We’ll after neglecting this blog for quite some time, I’m now back. I had to swap my laptop during the summer, and I decided to give one of the MacBook Pros a try. So I’ll be adding Perl on the Mac and the Mac in general to the topics covered here. My first dilemma with the new Mac was which perl to use.

  • Leopard only had 5.8 installed, and I’ve been hooked on 5.10 for a while now. (Snow Leopard has added 5.10, but by the time I got the upgrade I was commited to the ideal of keeping the system perl separate from my development perl.)
  • Having come from Arch Linux, I stumbled upon and really liked Arch OS/X. Unfortunately, it appears that it isn’t as well tested as MacPorts. In order to build any Perl modules that us XS with the Arch OS/X perl, I needed to use:

    $ perl Makefile.PL \
        LDDLFLAGS="-arch x86_64 -arch i386 -arch ppc \
                 -bundle -undefined dynamic_lookup -L/usr/local/lib" \
        LDFLAGS="-arch x86_64 -arch i386 -arch ppc -L/usr/local/lib" \
        CCFLAGS="-arch x86_64 -arch i386 -arch ppc -g -pipe \
                 -fno-common -DPERL_DARWIN -fno-strict-aliasing \
                 -I/usr/local/include -I." \

    Ummm… I don’t think so! While I created an bash alias for it, cpan/cpanp where requiring constant tweaks. I assume I could have exported those variable from my bashrc, but I would rather avoid global changes like that.

  • Next I tried compiling my own perl. I ended up doing it several times as I learned where to put it, and realized I had forgotten to enable things like threads. This really seems to be the best way to go, but I would rather someone else keep up with security patches, new versions, etc.

  • So finally I tried MacPorts. So far so good. I have had trouble remembering to check the variants (port variants <port-file>), but otherwise thumbs up.

One thing I realized that I want, is a record of all the ports that I have installed (not a list of all the installed ports, just those that I had purposely installed). So, I wrote a short bash script that I stuck in ~/bin/port to keep a log:


case "$1" in
  install|uninstall|upgrade|activate )
      echo "`date` $@" &gt;&gt; ~/.macports.log

/opt/local/bin/port $@

Now anytime I run port install perl5.10 +shared +threads it is added to a log file. Rebuilding the system should be a snap. (I’m sure I could have gotten this by grepping for sudo and port install from the /var/log/system.log* files, but I like having it all in one place and not worrying about log files being rotated out.)

One other tweak I need to make, was for CPANPLUS. I wanted to be able to install modules in either the system perl (by running /usr/bin/cpanp) or the MacPort perl (/opt/local/bin/cpanp), but both of those read my user config file (~/.cpanplus/lib/CPANPLUS/Config/ which need a full path for perlwrapper => '/usr/bin/cpanp-run-perl'. So I moved just that part of the config to the system config file by runnning the following in each cpanp:

$ s save system
$ s edit system

Then removing everything but the perlwrapper configuration. And finally taking the perlwrapper configuration out of my file. One other thing I needed to do to make 5.10 the default perl. MacPort defaults to perl5.8, but the following took care of that:

$ cd /opt/local/bin
$ sudo mv perl perl.bak
$ sudo cp perl-5.10 perl
# make cpanp -&gt; cpanp-5.10, etc.
$ for i in *-5.10 ; do x=${i%%-5.10} ;  sudo mv $x $x-5.8 ; sudo ln -s $i $x ; done 

I see Python has a python_select port-file. Maybe we need something like that for Perl.


October 13, 2009 8:00PM


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