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A guide to installing modules for Win32

by holli (Abbot)
on Feb 26, 2005 at 20:15 UTC ( [id://434813]=perltutorial: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

This article is meant as an extension to tachyon's well written A Guide to Installing Modules. But this one focuses on the peculiarites of installation on Windows machines.

Why ppm?
Invoking ppm
Installing modules
What is a repository?
Adding a repository
Getting around the proxy
Creating a local repository
Manual installation

Why ppm?

Installing modules directly from CPAN is easy, as long as the module contains no XS-extensions (C-code). Most Windows installations don't have a C-compiler, and even if there is one, the compilation of the XS-extensions is a tricky thingy, that can easily fail. So what can you do if you can't compile? The answer is: use a precompiled version.

The probably most popular port of Perl for Win32 is ActivePerl from ActiveState. It ships with a tool named ppm, aka the Programmer's Package Manager. ppm is a tool for installing modules, similar to the CPAN-shell. With it you can download and install modules, with or without XS-Extensions, with a few keystrokes.

The following describes the ppm Version that comes with Perl 5.8.0 and above. It differs slightly from the ppm that came with Perl 5.6

Perl modules built for Perl 5.8 are not binary compatible with modules build for Perl 5.6! That means they are not interchangeable.

Advantages and features of ppm

  • No need for a C/C++ compiler and 'make' utility
  • Automatic installation and deinstallation of modules
  • Automatic resolution of module dependencies
  • Automatic integration of module documentation into the html-documentation that comes with ActivePerl.
  • Maintainance of a database of installed modules and module versions.
  • An easy-to-use shell

As always, there are some tripwires and things you should know.


  • Core modules are not part of ppm's database
  • Less security. You cannot tell if the supplier added evil code to the XS-part of a module.

Invoking ppm

To invoke ppm, simply type ppm at the Windows console ("DOS") command line. The result will look similar to this:

C:\>ppm PPM - Programmer's Package Manager version 3.1. Copyright (c) 2001 ActiveState Corp. All Rights Reserved. ActiveState is a devision of Sophos. Entering interactive shell. Using Term::ReadLine::Stub as readline lib +rary. Type 'help' to get started. ppm>

To get immediate help in the ppm-shell, type help or help <command>.

Installing modules

In order to install a module you have basically two possibilities.

  • Specify a module to install directly
  • Search for a module and choose a one from the results shown

Direct install

To install a module (here: Death::Star) directly, simply type

ppm> install Death::Star

There is a drawback to using this method. If ppm finds more than one version of a module, you cannot choose which one gets installed. Naturally the most recent version gets installed, but there may be a case when you need to install another version. E.g. the most recent version can be buggy, or incompatible with another module you use.

You don't neccessarily need to use the ppm-shell to install a module. You can also use the following command to install a module directly from the command line.

C:\> ppm install Death::Star


To search for a module you use the search <string>-command. The parameter <string> for search is a case insensitive regex, thus if you don't know the module's full name, you can also search for pieces of it and you will get a list to choose from.

ppm> search Death::Star Searching in Active Repositories 1. Death::Star [1.0] a module to kill planets 2. Death::Star [2.0] kill planets with more firepower ppm>

You can find out more about a module by using the desc <module>-command.

ppm> desc 2 ==================== Package 2: Name: Death::Star Version: 2.0 Author: Darth Vader ( Title: The Deathstar Abstract: a planet killing module Location: ActiveState PPM2 Repository Available Platforms: 1. MSWin32-x86-multi-thread-5.8 ====================

To install a module from the list, type install, followed by the module's number.

ppm> install 2

Regardless which method you choose, ppm will start to install the module and produce output like this:

Package 2: ==================== Install 'Death::Star' version 2.0 in ActivePerl ==================== Downloaded 4657 bytes. Installing C:\Perl\html\site\lib\Death\Star.html Installing C:\Perl\site\lib\Death\ Successfully installed Death::Star version 2.0 in ActivePerl +. ppm>

If the module has dependencies (that is, it requires another module to work correctly) the dependencies are installed first.

What is a repository?

From above, you may have noticed the term Active Repositories. ppm downloads the modules from special websites that are called repositories. A repository is a just a directory or a script that serves a list of ppd files to ppm. From these ppd files, ppm gets the actual location of the module's tarball. A freshly installed ActivePerl will come with two repositories. To find out about them, type rep.

ppm> rep Repositories: [ 1] ActiveState PPM2 Repository [ 2] ActiveState Package Repository ppm>

In order to find out, which url a repository points to, you can use the rep desc <repository>-command.

ppm> rep desc 1 Describing Active Repository 1: Name: ActiveState PPM2 Repository Location: +MServer Type: PPMServer 2.0 ppm>

Adding a repository

A lot of modules are not available from the standard repositories. Thank crunchy, the community provides a lot of alternative repositories that offer the missing modules. For example our fellow brother jenda hosts a repository at

If you want to add such a repository to ppm you will have to use the rep add <name> <location>-command.

ppm> rep add jenda Repositories: [ 1] ActiveState PPM2 Repository [ 2] ActiveState Package Repository [ 3] jenda ppm>

From there on, the repository is known to ppm and will be used for future searches.

You don't need to permanently add a repository to install a module from it. You can specify the repository from the command line.

C:\> ppm install

So how, you might ask, do I find out where these repositories are? The answer to this question is That's a module that basically consists of a list of all known repositories. The, at the time of this writing, most recent version (0.9) is available at bribe's repository at

With the following script, you can use to add all known repositories to your ppm.
use PPM::Repositories; for ( keys %Repositories ) { print `ppm repository add $_ $Repositories{$_}->{location}`; }

You should be aware that the more repositories you add, the longer it takes for a search to finish.

Getting around the proxy

If you are behind a proxy, you will notice that ppm cannot connect to the internet. To make it work, you will have to set a bunch of environment-variables, where is the ip-address of the proxy, and y the port:

c:\> set http_proxy= c:\> set http_proxy_user=username c:\> set http_proxy_pass=password

Instead of entering the variables each time you before you start ppm, you have other possibilities to set them:

  • Click Start->Settings->Control Panel->System. Select the Expanded Tab, Click Environment. Click New, enter the appropriate values and click Ok.
  • Edit /perl/bin/ppm.bat and insert above lines right after @echo off

Creating a local repository

Still there may be some environments where that fails. But don't worry, there is an alternative, namely creating a local repository.

The first step doing so is to create a directory on your system that serves as the repository. Name and position of that directory is not important, I use /perl/ppm/repository as an example.

Then add that directory to your ppm using the command described in adding a repository.

ppm> rep add myRepository /perl/ppm/repository
The next step is to download the ppd file of the module and save it to your repository. A ppd file is a xml file that contains information about the module's position, version, etc. It looks like
<SOFTPKG NAME="Death-Star" VERSION="2,00,0,0"> <TITLE>The Deathstar</TITLE> <ABSTRACT>a planet killing module</ABSTRACT> <AUTHOR>Darth Vader (</AUTHOR> <IMPLEMENTATION> <ARCHITECTURE NAME="MSWin32-x86-multi-thread-5.8" /> <OS NAME="MSWin32" /> <CODEBASE HREF="x86/Death-Star-2.0.tar.gz" /> </IMPLEMENTATION> </SOFTPKG>

Identify the line that says <CODEBASE HREF="x86/Death-Star-2.0.tar.gz" />. It informs you about the relative position of the module's tar.gz-file, aka tarball. Now download that tarball and save it into the same relative postion. In this example that would be /perl/ppm/repository/x86/Death-Star-2.0.tar.gz.

Now you can use ppm to install the module from your local repository.

Manual installation

You also have the choice to install the module manually. To do so, simply download the tarball and extract it with WinZip or a similar program.

A typical ppm-distribution looks like this:

C:/blib/ +---arch/ +---auto/ +---Death/ +---Star/ #Star.dll +---html/ +---site/ +---lib/ +--Death/ #Star.html +---lib/ +---Death/

Now you can copy the files manually into your Perl's library tree, namely

C:\> copy \blib\lib\Death\ \Perl\site\lib\Death\ C:\> copy \blib\arch\auto\Death\Star\Star.dll \Perl\site\lib\auto\Deat +h\Star\ C:\> copy \blib\html\site\lib\Death\Star.html \Perl\html\site\lib\Deat +h\Star.html

Be aware that the module's html-documentation will not be integrated into the ActiveState-docs automatically. But if you do a complete rebuild of the HTML documentation, it will be added:

perl -MActivePerl::DocTools -e "UpdateHTML(1)"


Using PPM to install modules
PPM::Make - Make a ppm package from a CPAN distribution
ppm3 - Programmer's Package Manager, version 3.1
how to create a ppm-distribution
HowTo build and distribute a PPMed module for Win32

I hope this article can make its way into the tutorials section. I hereby invite every monk to improve this document.

Update: Corrected error concerning "Getting around the proxy"
Update: Included thundergnat's tip in the text, as suggested by GrandFather.

holli, /regexed monk/

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by thundergnat (Deacon) on May 06, 2005 at 14:35 UTC

    Be aware that the module's html-documentation will not be integrated into the ActiveState-docs.

    Not automatically, but if you do a complete rebuild of the HTML documentation, it will be added.

    perl -MActivePerl::DocTools -e "UpdateHTML(1)"

    Works quite nicely for manual installations.

      Very nice tip! ++ It was very handy for me today.

      holli, /regexed monk/
      Slight change of topic, but I believe related. Installing ppm modules doesn't install the test files either. Is there a way like above with updatehtml to install tests?
        Test files aren't installed, because they are not part of the ppm-package. You cannot install what isn't there ;-)

        holli, /regexed monk/
Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by tphyahoo (Vicar) on May 09, 2005 at 13:47 UTC
    Thanks Holli, this was excellent.

    Jenda's repository appears to be down at the moment. This caused ppm to "sit and wait" for an awfully long time, with no feedback for several minutes, until it finally failed for me.

    So, obvious point, but you might want to mention that it's worth checking a repository with your web browser, or pinging it, before adding it, since ppm is so slow for this.

    UPDATE: So, I wrote a Script to update your PPM Repositories

Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by jZed (Prior) on Feb 26, 2005 at 20:32 UTC
Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by greenFox (Vicar) on Jul 08, 2005 at 04:39 UTC

    Great tutorial, thanks. One small suggestion (because it took me a little while to work it out...) in the section "Creating a local repository" where you talk about downloading the ppd file and tarball it would probably help to mention that these files are downloaded from an existing repository. On that matter, is there a list of repositories available?

    Murray Barton
    Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought. -Basho

      The only list I know of is in as mentioned here

      holli, /regexed monk/
Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32 -> Link to 2022 Edition
by pryrt (Abbot) on Jul 31, 2022 at 22:04 UTC
Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by culix (Initiate) on Jun 22, 2007 at 19:53 UTC
    Hi Holli,

    I'd like to share one other PPM quirk, as it took me a few hours to figure out. If the .tar.gz filename does not include the version number, PPM will not actually install the file when downloading from a local repository. I created a local repository on a network drive and copied over "Foo-Bar.ppd" and "Foo-Bar.tar.gz". When I told PPM to install the module it claimed success, but wouldn't actually copy the files to the local machine. Once I renamed the files to "Foo-Bar-0.1.ppd" and "Foo-Bar-0.1.tar.gz" they were installed correctly.

    Sorry if this is a rookie mistake, but I didn't see it mentioned here so I thought I would post.

    Thanks for writing the article, it was helpful.

Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by ww (Archbishop) on Feb 28, 2005 at 02:06 UTC
    Excellent! holli++
Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by mkirank (Chaplain) on Mar 02, 2005 at 08:55 UTC
    You could also mention about Nmake and how to Install using Nmake
        Yes, but this purports to cover installing on Win32; how to get nmake and install a non-XS module from CPAN is a part of that. Though perhaps it would be sufficient to change:
        Installing modules directly from CPAN is easy, as long as the module contains no XS-extensions (C-code).
        [id://435732|Installing modules directly from CPAN] is easy, as long as the module contains no XS-extensions (C-code).
Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by runrig (Abbot) on Jun 07, 2006 at 18:41 UTC
    I just wanted to mention that in general, it's better to specify the distribution name rather than the module name when using ppm install or ppm search. When you just specify the module name, ppm has to search for and guess which distribution the module is in. Once in a great while it gets it wrong or doesn't find the module. For modules with the same name as their distribution, this just involves s/::/-/g on the module name in the ppm install command.
      I find that in many cases ppm can't find the module at all, and I have to go find the distribution name manually, guess (s/::/-/g), or give a too-general wildcard.

      So unless someone gives me a distribution name, I expect a headache.

      Quantum Mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of

Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by tphyahoo (Vicar) on Aug 16, 2005 at 09:58 UTC
Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by Anonymous Monk on Nov 23, 2006 at 09:06 UTC
    Hi Holli, Good tutorial. It really help me a lot.
Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by jaschwar (Acolyte) on Jan 12, 2011 at 02:16 UTC
    I wanted to add a few comments that may help those who are using win64 as there are few differences:
    First is the easy part, to use the 64-bit potential of your machine use the 64-bit distribution:

    Second, with nmake being 16-bit, you'll need an alternative. Dmake should work. Its link is here:
    After unzipping, change the enviromential variable path to include the place where dmake.exe resides.
    Replace nmake with dmake. So, after unzipping the module package.

    $ perl Makefile.PL<br> $ dmake<br> $ dmake test <br> $ dmake install<br>

    ppm will be installed with Active State distro.

    MinGW compiler is here:
    Hope that helps anyone trying to install modules on top of 64-bit Active State.

      MinGW compiler is here:

      But provide only a 32-bit compiler, and the 64-bit ActivePerl would need a 64-bit compiler, such as the one offered by the mingw64 project (a different vendor than

      And even then, in order to get this 64-bit compiler working with ActivePerl, I found it necessary to do some hacking to lib/, lib/ActivePerl/ and lib/ExtUtils/

      You're right about dmake - however, I'm not sure that there's any problem with nmake itself.

Re: A guide to installing modules for Win32
by Anonymous Monk on Oct 16, 2012 at 18:32 UTC

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