Setting up a Perl Development Environment with plenv

This is a slightly modified copy of something I posted internally at work about setting up a development environment using plenv, which keeps your working Perl isolated from your system Perl. Many expert Perl developers already have some variation of this, but I'm posting it as a public service for people who've wanted this but never got around to it.

(I used to use perlbrew, but switched to plenv and haven't looked back).

Step 0: Install compilation tools

Make sure you have a command-line compilation environment ready:

  • Mac: install Xcode or Xcode command line tools
  • Debian-based: sudo apt-get install build-essential
  • Fedora-based: sudo yum install make gcc

Step 1: Install plenv

(This is excerpted almost verbatim from the documentation for plenv)

This will get you going with the latest version of plenv:

1.1 Check out plenv into ~/.plenv.

$ git clone git://github.com/tokuhirom/plenv.git ~/.plenv

1.2 Add ~/.plenv/bin to your $PATH for access to the plenv command-line utility.

$ echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.plenv/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bash_profile

Ubuntu note: Modify your ~/.profile instead of ~/.bash_profile.
Zsh note: Modify your ~/.zshrc file instead of ~/.bash_profile.

1.3 Add plenv init to your shell to enable shims and autocompletion.

$ echo 'eval "$(plenv init -)"' >> ~/.bash_profile

Same as in previous step, use ~/.profile on Ubuntu, ~/.zshrc for Zsh.

1.4 Restart your shell as a login shell so the path changes take effect. You can now begin using plenv.

$ exec $SHELL -l

1.5 Install perl-build, which provides a "plenv install" command that simplifies the process of installing new Perl versions.

$ git clone git://github.com/tokuhirom/Perl-Build.git ~/.plenv/plugins/perl-build/

1.6 Build a version of Perl. The following line builds in parallel, enables threads and disables man pages (to save space).

$ plenv install -j 9 -D usethreads -D man1dir=none -D man3dir=none 5.20.1 

1.7 Rebuild the shim executables. You should do this any time you install a new Perl executable (for example, when installing a new Perl version, or when installing a cpanm that provides a command).

$ plenv rehash

You can get help using plenv with "plenv help".

Step 2: Enable the Perl you just built

You can set your Perl in two ways:

  • local Perl – within a directory (and subdirectories); keeps things isolated but might surprise you if you're working out of multiple directories
  • global Perl – always the default Perl in your PATH; consistent everywhere, but could break code that assumes a different version of Perl or different installed dependencies

To set the Perl locally, change to the directory you want and run this command (to set the version to 5.20.1, as built, above):

$ plenv local 5.20.1

To set the Perl globally, run this command:

$ plenv global 5.20.1

Verify you have the Perl you intended:

$ perl -v

Step 3: Install the "cpanm" CPAN client

The "cpanm" command line tool is a popular, zero-config CPAN client. Plenv can install it for you into the currently running Perl:

$ plenv install-cpanm

Step 4: Install CPAN modules you need

For example, to install Moose, use this command:

$ cpanm Moose

If all dependencies build OK, Moose will be installed. If errors occur, a log file location will be shown for further analysis.

You can install multiple CPAN modules by listing them on the command line:

$ cpanm DBI DBD::SQLite JSON::MaybeXS

You can get help with "cpanm --help".

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