How to cleanly uninstall a Perl module

CPAN makes installing Perl modules easy but when it comes to removing Perl modules, you have to roll your own solution*. Fortunately the Perl core includes the ExtUtils modules that can help. The script below accepts the Module::Name as an argument, and will delete all files and empty directories associated with that module.

# from

use 5.14.2;
use ExtUtils::Installed;
use ExtUtils::Packlist;

# Exit unless a module name was passed
die ("Error: no Module::Name passed as an argument. E.G.\n\t perl $0 Module::Name\n") unless $#ARGV == 0;

my $module = shift @ARGV;

my $installed_modules = ExtUtils::Installed->new;

# iterate through and try to delete every file associated with the module
foreach my $file ($installed_modules->files($module)) {
    print "removing $file\n";
    unlink $file or warn "could not remove $file: $!\n";

# delete the module packfile
my $packfile = $installed_modules->packlist($module)->packlist_file;
print "removing $packfile\n";
unlink $packfile or warn "could not remove $packfile: $!\n";

# delete the module directories if they are empty
foreach my $dir (sort($installed_modules->directory_tree($module))) {
    print("removing $dir\n");
    rmdir $dir or warn "could not remove $dir: $!\n";

Save the script code above into a text file saved as ‘’. So if we wanted to uninstall the venerable Acme::Dot module, we would open up the terminal, navigate to directory containing and type:

$ perl Acme::Dot

and the script will remove the module for you. It will retain non-empty directories, as it uses rmdir.

removing /home/sillymoose/perl5/perlbrew/perls/perl-5.14.2/man/man3/Acme::Dot.3
removing /home/sillymoose/perl5/perlbrew/perls/perl-5.14.2/lib/site_perl/5.14.2/Acme/


App::cpanminus is a popular alternative CPAN client that can be used to manage Perl distributions. It has many great features, including uninstalling modules. Once you’ve installed App::cpanminus, to remove the Acme::Dot module, at the command line type:

$ cpanm --uninstall Acme::Dot

App::cpanminus has loads of other great features, to see them, just run cpanm --help.

Updated: added cpanm example and clarified directory removal process. 2015-02-21**

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David Farrell

David is a professional programmer who regularly tweets and blogs about code and the art of programming.

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