Using Perl on Windows Part 1: Installing ActiveState Perl
When I want to get something done with Windows XP, I have a habit of using Perl because I’m very familiar with it (I’m a Unix geek).
Luckily, Perl is available as a Windows executable thanks to the people at ActiveState. This guide will show you how to install ActiveState Perl on Windows.
Installing Perl isn’t hard, but I plan to make some scripts available for people unfamiliar with Perl. This guide is intended for them.
A (Brief) Primer
Perl is a scripting language. When you download a Perl script, you are downloading a text file written in the Perl language. It needs a program called an interpreter to run. ActiveState Perl is a version of the Perl interpreter for Windows that will allow you to run Perl scripts on your Windows computer.
Perl is safe. Being able to run Perl scripts does not expose your computer to any vulnerabilities. There aren’t any web browsers or email programs that run Perl scripts automatically, unlike VBScript (Visual Basic Scripts used by Microsoft products — the source of all those virii with Outlook, Excel, Word, etc).
- Visit the download section of the ActivePerl website.
- Download the highest current version number (126.96.36.1997 at time of writing this article).
- Do not chose a Beta version.
- On the following web page, leave the registration form empty and click Next.
- You will be presented with a versions of ActivePerl for different operating systems. Choose the version for Windows.
- You can chose the “AS Package” (self-installer) or the MSI (Microsoft Installer). I recommend MSI.
- If you are running Windows NT or Windows 95 there are special options for you on the right side of the page (not shown in screenshot). I also recommend getting a new computer.
- Save the .msi somewhere on your hard drive, and run it.
- The installation process is VERY simple. Keep pressing Next.
- I didn’t include screen captures of every dialog box.
- If you need to see screen captures of all of the dialog boxes, see the about.com guide (see below)
- You’re done! See how painless it is?
- Now you can run Perl scripts (files with the .pl extension) by double-clicking on them.
Coming soon: Part 2 installing modules from CPAN.
Other People’s Guides to Installing Perl on Windows
- Windows versions of Perl are also available from Cygwin and IndigoPerl
- about.com’s Guide to installing Perl on Windows XP
- Guide to installing Perl on Windows XP and running CGI scripts on IIS
- John Bokma’s (better) guide to ActiveState Perl on WinXP
- Guide to nmake on Windows XP (so you can build anything from CPAN)