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What is the best book for beginning Perl? Where to learn Perl from the basics? I only know bash/Linux at an intermediate level. I would like to learn Perl because it has the same syntax on every operating system unlike some shell scripting languages.

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closed as not constructive by Mark Trapp Dec 7 '11 at 22:11

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You should star the process for at –  davidk01 Apr 22 '11 at 9:58
6 will never fly, as they don't want to fragment the community into java, C#, python, ruby, php, javascript, etc. Your best option is –  Eric Wilson Apr 22 '11 at 14:11
@FarmBoy: I was sufficiently annoyed when Unix & Linux and Ubuntu didn't merge. I certainly don't want language fragmentation. –  David Thornley Apr 22 '11 at 14:57

8 Answers 8

No-one has mentioned the Perl Pocket Reference, so I'll mention it here. Along with Learning Perl and Programming Perl, it forms the Trinity of Perl manuals, IMO.

Also, see: for a list of canonical Perl texts.

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If you're fairly adept at learning new languages, you should check out Data Munging with Perl. It starts with some simple problems and demonstrates "the Perl way" of dealing with them. It covers using Perl as opposed to learning it, but if you like learning by example this is a good book.

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  1. Start with "Learning Perl".
  2. Refer perldoc.
  3. Make an account in perlmonks and chat with the perl pros to seek guidance.
  4. Check the questions asked at Stackoverflow under perl-tag.
  5. Subscribe to the perl groups at google-groups.
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Randal Schwartz's Learning Perl is an excellent by-example introduction to Perl. Programming Perl (Wall/Christiansen/Orwant) and Perl Cookbook (Christiansen/Torkington) are two of the best-written computer science books I've ever seen.

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I felt empowered by the seminal Perl Cookbook. (search for pdfs on the internet) Read it together with Learning Perl (for instance) when you need to deal with programming problems you need to solve.

I also benefitted from reading randal schwartz' columns on He wrote them over 15 years for some computer magazines. An article usually starts with a small problem that he solves, usually with some clear and creative perl code, and some explanations along the way.

The older columns are often easier to read (may be a bit outdated). Just skim a few.

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I would start with


It's not complete and it never gets into much detail but will give a brief overview over basic features and enables you to write simple Perl scripts within hours.

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I think you could start with Beginning Perl by Simon Cozens. It gives a really nice introduction into whe world of Perl and it's available online for free.

/It was written in 2000 and possibly might be little out of date so take a look at the Modern Perl by chromatic./

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+1 for Modern Perl. –  DVK Sep 17 '11 at 22:02

It sounds like you already know how to program and the canonical source for starting with perl for people who know a bit about programming is "Learning Perl". I think it's a pretty good introduction but it can be a little slow at times for an experienced programmer so you could also look into Apress books on perl, they are my second favorite publisher for introductory programming books.

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Programming perl is also good for starting with perl. –  Mahmoud Hossam Apr 22 '11 at 12:03
When I was starting my business (after not touching a line of code in something like 15 years), I already had code in TCL and was scared of Perl because of some comments a friend made. I was broke and saw "Learning Perl" (2nd Edition) for $9 at Barnes & Noble and bought it. Within an hour of getting home, I was writing Perl programs and within 3 hours I had decided to re-write all my TCL code in Perl, even though I knew it'd take 2 weeks. (It was the best decision I made during my startup time.) –  Tango Apr 22 '11 at 15:38
Definitely the camel book; good intro and overview of material, and I enjoyed the inside jokes (although this may vary from person to person). –  Rook Apr 23 '11 at 12:08

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