The Module of Modules: CPAN
Modules make possible in an afternoon, what would take many months without them. It is because of this the time needed to learn to use them is well spent. Once you learn to effectively use modules, you will wonder how you ever got by without them. Switching from Perl without modules, to Perl with modules, is as big a step is ease of use and project clarity as moving from C to Perl was is the first place.
So, my favorite module is the module that brings me my modules: CPAN.pm
This should have come with your perl dist. I won't get into how to use it in your program, as most modules are used; no, there is a very special power within CPAN that no monk can live without. This is the CPAN shell. To invoke, issue the following incantation:perl -MCPAN -e'shell'
It will probably tell you some things, like that there is a newer version of the spell, and that you should fetch some network Bundle:: 's. Follow these instructions, always.
Now, to look for a module, light your purifying incense, and chant:i /keyword/
Give it a try. If you don't know what to search for, try i /lingua/.
When you find something that sounds way-super-cool, concentrate on:install package::name
For example, you might want to install Lingua::EN::Gender. This will download the tarball, configure it, make it, make test and make install it for you, saving you the trouble. Why should a Perl hacker have to wrestle with gcc? I say, let's leave the C coding to St. Wall, and his Disciples.
When you first run it, it will ask you some congif questions; I recommend asking the Gods to install any dependencies for you; I have found them to be better at knowing these things than I am.
It might help to run this as root.
If make test fails, you can probably go to $HOME/.cpan/build and make install. Usually when make test fails, it is becuase no time was spent developing the test, and instead of making it always pass, they like to make it always fail... but this is rare. Most packages are written well.
jdporter - changed title from single word "CPAN"