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Help with compiled perl?

by luxverita (Initiate)
on Nov 02, 2009 at 04:11 UTC ( #804412=perlquestion: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??
luxverita has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

About 10 years ago I bought a cgi/perl chat script called SEaChat for about $275.00. For about 3 years it sat on my web hosting space collecting dust. When I canceled my hosting package I transferred the files to my hard drive. Now, I want to use these files again and I can't. The perl .cgi files are compiled and I can't read them. Apparently, she did this as a 'fail safe' to keep her script from being used by people who didn't pay for it. Long story short, I tried to reach the script writer via e-mail only to find out about 2-3 years ago she stopped selling it and about 4 years ago she stopped supporting. She says she doesn't even have any of the files anymore! Now, I'm left with this script that I'd love to use, that I paid for ...and I can't. Is there anyway to get any help with this??? I am a total newb, by the by, so while I've searched for 'deompilers' I don't know what to do with them once I've found them :) Thanks!

Comment on Help with compiled perl?
Re: Help with compiled perl?
by Anonymous Monk on Nov 02, 2009 at 04:27 UTC
    Ask for your money back :) seriously
      LOL Yeah, I did. She said since so many years have gone by that she'd give me $65.00 :-O
        ... about 2-3 years ago she stopped selling it and about 4 years ago she stopped supporting.
        So she stopped supporting the product a year or two before she stopped selling it? That doesn't sound quite right!

        OTOH, I think if I had bought a gallon of milk ten years ago for $2.75, kept it unopened in the back of my fridge until this morning when I wanted to put some of it on my CrunchyMunchies, found it was sour, taken it back to the store and they offered me a 65 cent refund, I'd be pretty happy about it!

Re: Help with compiled perl?
by Gangabass (Priest) on Nov 02, 2009 at 06:45 UTC

    Where we can have a look at your files?

    Why you think that files are compiled?

Re: Help with compiled perl?
by biohisham (Priest) on Nov 02, 2009 at 12:23 UTC
    I'm sure I read somewhere about these issues, from an initial Googleing I conclude many have sought solutions to similar situations, I guess it is not so easy to decompile but it is just not impossible too knowing the compiler employed to accomplish the task and having a certain level of technical abilities, it'd be lucky if the compiler was not so advanced... check this node: Perl Decompile and PerlApp decompile?, even these discussion can have some insights.

    Why don't you try to convince her to tell you more, or talk her into it? probably pay her ?!, encourage her ?! take her out to the nearest YAPC or whatever it takes...



    Excellence is an Endeavor of Persistence. Chance Favors a Prepared Mind.
Re: Help with compiled perl?
by leocharre (Priest) on Nov 02, 2009 at 16:21 UTC

    This person you paid money to for the script is not a pro. Stay as far away from that as possible. Don't contact, don't answer emails- lock your doors at night. Screen your calls.

    There *is* a way to get help with this. Post on craigslist or maybe even in some perl discussion group that you need a *real* coder to solve some problem.

    A real coder is going to charge you for the time it takes them to solve your problem. Not for this junk that causes you a headache down the road. What you described is a travesty. Do yourself a favor and stay the hell away from people who sell you software, instead of charging you for development time. If I were approached with this problem (not that I am offering) I would probably find an existing solution, install it, and charge you $200 for the rounded hour it took (45mins).

Re: Help with compiled perl?
by spx2 (Chaplain) on Nov 02, 2009 at 16:55 UTC
    1. Step back, calm down, pour hot tea, drink, breath in, breath out.
    2. Make specs for software, describe what the old script did in detail, do not leave things out.
    3. Now you have to choose
      • You start learning Perl and come here to Perlmonks where we monks help you fix stuff and learn to write your own script so next time it breaks you'll know how to put 2 lines together to fix it and not have to rely on some 3rd party
      • You make an ad on jobs.perl.org and pay someone to fix/write it for you
      • Convince her to update the script for you and she's welcome to stop by Perlmonks to ask some questions if she needs help
    As biohisham has mentioned I tend to think the last of the 3 options would be most likely to get you some results.
Re: Help with compiled perl?
by thunders (Priest) on Nov 03, 2009 at 17:42 UTC

    Ten years is a very long time in terms both Perl and the evolution of Web Applications as whole. Putting aside the fact that you have a useless pile of code that is impossible to maintain or extend, its also unlikely that a 10 year old chat script will have a competitive featureset compared to a more modern solution.

    What are your requirements? Perhaps there is an open source or affordable commercial solution that will meet your needs.

    Considering the author has offered you a partial refund, you may as well take it. Even if you use an automated tool like B::Deobfuscate to deparse the "compiled" code into something more readable, you will not easily be able to understand and maintain that output without the help of an experienced developer. Sounds like all the original variable names and other symbols are gone and you'd need to debug it line by line.

    Take the refund and start over, in the future make sure any solution you evaluate does not suffer from the same flaws as SEaChat.

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