Your point (2) I agree with... I propose the creation of a new module, Net::Ping::External, to handle the use of the system's ping command. Net::Ping will know how to use the module, through a new protocol called "external", and the "auto" protocol of Net::Ping will skip the "external" protocol if Net::Ping::External is not installed on the system or if Net::Ping::External can't find a suitable ping command. If we could get documentation on what various systems' ping commands return on success/failure, that would be the easiest way to parse the results... otherwise, we'll probably need to use regexes and the like to parse results on a system-by-system basis.
(3) Yes, you are correct in your interpretation of what I want to do with the "auto" protocol.
(4) I just found out the hard way that non-blocking connect doesn't work under Win systems. Why is that? Setting SO_RCVTIMEO and/or SO_SNDTIMEO doesn't work, under any OS, AFAIK because no data is actually being sent or received. If the Socket modules use alarm() to implement timeouts, do these timeouts work on non-alarm()-supporting systems (i.e. Windows)?
Does anybody have any further ideas on how I can get a TCP ping to timeout on WinXX systems? My only thought at this time is to use Win32::CreateProcess or fork() to spawn a child, and kill it if it's not returned by the time the timeout has passed.
(5) select() does make perfect sense in this situation. I still think that this is functionality I would rather pull into another new module, Net::Ping::Parallel, instead of adding feature-bloat to the current module.
This has generated a lot of discussion; I'm wondering if I shouldn't create a Sourceforge account for this project such that there is a central place to store the various advantages/drawbacks to each of the proposed enhancements, and a CVS account so that people can view the current progress (and any interested perlers can contribute code.) Once the code has been mostly "fixed", I'll post it to the code section here for further review. I think the sourceforge page should probably be posted to comp.lang.perl.modules or comp.lang.perl.misc (I frequent neither newsgroup so I don't know offhand which would be most appropriate).