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Perl Language Reference Manual
by Larry Wall and others
Paperback (6"x9"), 724 pages
ISBN 9781906966027
RRP £29.95 ($39.95)

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-S

makes Perl use the PATH environment variable to search for the program (unless the name of the program contains directory separators).

On some platforms, this also makes Perl append suffixes to the filename while searching for it. For example, on Win32 platforms, the ".bat" and ".cmd" suffixes are appended if a lookup for the original name fails, and if the name does not already end in one of those suffixes. If your Perl was compiled with DEBUGGING turned on, using the -Dp switch to Perl shows how the search progresses.

Typically this is used to emulate #! startup on platforms that don't support #!. Its also convenient when debugging a script that uses #!, and is thus normally found by the shell's $PATH search mechanism.

This example works on many platforms that have a shell compatible with Bourne shell:

#!/usr/bin/perl
eval 'exec /usr/bin/perl -wS $0 ${1+"$@"}'
        if $running_under_some_shell;

The system ignores the first line and feeds the program to /bin/sh, which proceeds to try to execute the Perl program as a shell script. The shell executes the second line as a normal shell command, and thus starts up the Perl interpreter. On some systems $0 doesn't always contain the full pathname, so the -S tells Perl to search for the program if necessary. After Perl locates the program, it parses the lines and ignores them because the variable $running_under_some_shell is never true. If the program will be interpreted by csh, you will need to replace ${1+"$@"} with $*, even though that doesn't understand embedded spaces (and such) in the argument list. To start up sh rather than csh, some systems may have to replace the #! line with a line containing just a colon, which will be politely ignored by Perl. Other systems can't control that, and need a totally devious construct that will work under any of csh, sh, or Perl, such as the following:

eval '(exit $?0)' && eval 'exec perl -wS $0 ${1+"$@"}'
& eval 'exec /usr/bin/perl -wS $0 $argv:q'
        if $running_under_some_shell;

If the filename supplied contains directory separators (i.e., is an absolute or relative pathname), and if that file is not found, platforms that append file extensions will do so and try to look for the file with those extensions added, one by one.

On DOS-like platforms, if the program does not contain directory separators, it will first be searched for in the current directory before being searched for on the PATH. On Unix platforms, the program will be searched for strictly on the PATH.

ISBN 9781906966027Perl Language Reference ManualSee the print edition