FAQ 1.3 Which version of Perl should I use?

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1.3: Which version of Perl should I use?

    (contributed by brian d foy)

    There is often a matter of opinion and taste, and there isn't any one
    answer that fits anyone. In general, you want to use either the current
    stable release, or the stable release immediately prior to that one.
    Currently, those are perl5.8.x and perl5.6.x, respectively.

    Beyond that, you have to consider several things and decide which is
    best for you.

    *   If things aren't broken, upgrading perl may break them (or at least
        issue new warnings).

    *   The latest versions of perl have more bug fixes.

    *   The Perl community is geared toward supporting the most recent
        releases, so you'll have an easier time finding help for those.

    *   Versions prior to perl5.004 had serious security problems with
        buffer overflows, and in some cases have CERT advisories (for
        instance, http://www.cert.org/advisories/CA-1997-17.html ).

    *   The latest versions are probably the least deployed and widely
        tested, so you may want to wait a few months after their release and
        see what problems others have if you are risk averse.

    *   The immediate, previous releases (i.e. perl5.6.x ) are usually
        maintained for a while, although not at the same level as the
        current releases.

    *   No one is actively supporting Perl 4. Five years ago it was a dead
        camel carcass (according to this document). Now it's barely a
        skeleton as its whitewashed bones have fractured or eroded.

    *   There is no Perl 6 for the next couple of years. Stay tuned, but
        don't worry that you'll have to change major versions of Perl soon
        (i.e. before 2008).

    *   There are really two tracks of perl development: a maintenance
        version and an experimental version. The maintenance versions are
        stable, and have an even number as the minor release (i.e.
        perl5.8.x, where 8 is the minor release). The experimental versions
        may include features that don't make it into the stable versions,
        and have an odd number as the minor release (i.e. perl5.9.x, where 9
        is the minor release).


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