Setup your computer for CPAN-PRC

Earlier I wrote about why should you join CPAN Pull Request Challenge. Now I will explain how to get your computer ready to work on your assignment. You can grab a Docker image and start hacking right away, or you can install everything you need on your computer.

Option 1: The Docker Way

By using a Docker image that has everything you need, you can start working in minutes.

1: Install Docker

On Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt-get install

Alternatively, see the instructions for macOS and Windows.

2: Find out your system architecture

You need to figure out which one of i686 or x86_64 is right for you. On Ubuntu/macOS:

$ uname --machine

On Windows:

> wmic os get osarchitecture

3: Fork & clone the repo

Now you need to fork and clone the Github repository you were assigned for the PRC. For example, I created this fork, and can clone it with:

$ git clone ~/Desktop/App-p

4: Run Docker

I have prepared a docker image which comes with the latest stable version of Perl (5.26.1), perlbrew , cpanm and dzil , all pre-installed.

Here’s how I would run docker on the repo I cloned in step 3:

$ docker run -v ~/Desktop/App-p:/App-p -it kyzn/perlbrew-prc:x86_64


  • ~/Desktop/App-p is the local path to the repo
  • /App-p is the path of the directory inside the Docker image
  • x86_64 is the system architecture from step 2

This will launch an Ubuntu image as root user, mounting the repository to /App-p. Git is installed, but you need to use your local (non-Docker) terminal to pull/push. The text editors nano, vim, and emacs are installed in the image as well. You can also use your local text editor.

Building a Docker Image

If you tried both x86_64 and i686 and neither worked for you, you can build the docker image by hand. Note that this will take some time:

$ git clone
$ cd perlbrew-prc-dockerimage
$ docker build -t kyzn/perlbrew-prc:my_build .

Then use the same docker run command with your own my_build tag.

Option 2: The Local Way

You can install the same tools to your computer; I’ve prepared instructions for macOS and Ubuntu. This usually takes about one to two hours.

Notes for macOS users

Perl, during its installation, will ask for permission for incoming network connections. Denying that request doesn’t break anything for CPAN-PRC purposes.

Installing modules via cpanm might give you a permission error. In the terminal, run:

$ sudo chown -R $USER:staff ~/.cpanm

This command changes the owner of the cpanm folder, which usually fixes the issue.

You need to install homebrew:

$ ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"`

1: Install Perlbrew

Most systems come with a certain version of Perl installed. Yet it is often recommended not to tamper system Perl, as applications depend on its state. That’s why we want to install a separate Perl for development purposes.

$ curl -L | bash

Once it’s done, it will ask you to add source ~/perl5/perlbrew/etc/bashrc to your ~/.bashrc. You should do as instructed right away.

2: Install Perl

Now that we have Perlbrew in place, we can go ahead and install a Perl on our own, keeping system Perl alone. I am going to suggest installing latest stable-version, which happens to be 5.26.1 at the time of this writing. You may run perlbrew available to see most common versions. Note that this will take a while.

$ perlbrew install -j 4 perl-stable

There are two ways to use a Perl version with Perlbrew: use and switch. use is temporary, it goes away once you close the terminal. That’s why I recommend switch, which will make it permanent.

$ perlbrew switch perl-5.26.1

To make sure switch worked, check your Perl version in the terminal:

$ perl -v

3: Install cpanm

This is a script that will help you install CPAN modules. There already is a client installed, called cpan. But, cpan requires configuration and is more verbose and slower than cpanm.

$ perlbrew install-cpanm

To be sure you’re using the perlbrew installed cpanm, run this command:

$ which cpanm | grep perlbrew

If the terminal displays any matching output, it worked.

4: Install dzil

Many CPAN authors use dzil to build and release their modules. The chances of your PRC assignment having a dist.ini file (dzil configuration) are high.

First you need to install a non-Perl dependency, openssl. On macOS:

$ brew install openssl

And on Ubuntu:

$ sudo apt-get install libssl-dev

Then install Dist::Zilla with cpanm. Note that this will take a while, as it has a lot of dependencies.

$ cpanm Dist::Zilla

5: Install reply (optional)

reply is a nice interactive shell that lets you play around.

Ubuntu users will need to install these missing dependencies:

$ sudo apt-get install libncurses5-dev libreadline-dev

Now install reply:

$ cpanm Term::ReadLine::Gnu Reply

Now you are ready to work on your assignment! Good luck!


Kivanc Yazan

Kivanc is a software engineer at ZipRecruiter. He is interested in Semantic Web, Social Networks and CS Education. He regularly blogs about programming and computers.

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