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Chapter 2. Getting Started Fast

This chapter is about getting started with mod_perl, for the very impatient. If all you want is to run your existing CGI scripts in a mod_perl-enabled environment, we'll try to make this as easy for you as possible. Of course, we hope that you'll read the rest of the book too. But first, we want to show you how simple it is to harness the power of mod_perl.

On a decent machine, it should take half an hour or less to compile and configure a mod_perl-based Apache server and get it running. Although there are binary distributions of mod_perl-enabled Apache servers available for various platforms, we recommend that you always build mod_perl from source. It's simple to do (provided you have all the proper tools on your machine), and building from source circumvents possible problems with binary distributions, such as those reported for the RPM packages built for Red Hat Linux.

The mod_perl installation that follows has been tested on many mainstream Unix and Linux platforms. Unless you're using a very nonstandard system, you should have no problems when building the basic mod_perl server.

For Windows users, the simplest solution is to use the binary package available from Windows users may skip to Section 2.4.

Before we continue, however, we have one important bit of advice: while you're learning mod_perl, be sure that you experiment on a private machine and not on a production server.

2.1. Installing mod_perl 1.0 in Three Steps

You can install mod_perl in three easy steps: obtain the source files required to build mod_perl, build mod_perl, and install it.

Building mod_perl from source requires a machine with basic development tools. In particular, you will need an ANSI-compliant C compiler (such as gcc) and the make utility. All standard Unix-like distributions include these tools. If a required tool is not already installed, you can install it with the package manager that is provided with the system (rpm, apt, yast, etc.).

A recent version of Perl (5.004 or higher) is also required. Perl is available as an installable package, although most Unix-like distributions will have Perl installed by default. To check that the tools are available and to learn about their version numbers, try:

panic% make -v
panic% gcc -v
panic% perl -v

If any of these responds with Command not found, the utility will need to be installed.

Once all the tools are in place, the installation can begin. Experienced Unix users will need no explanation of the commands that follow and can simply type them into a terminal window.

Get the source code distrubutions of Apache and mod_perl using your favorite web browser or a command-line client such as wget or lwp-download. These two distributions are available from and, respectively.

The two packages are named apache_1.3.xx.tar.gz and mod_perl-1.xx.tar.gz, where 1.3.xx and 1.xx should be replaced with the real version numbers of Apache and mod_perl, respectively. Although 2.0 development versions of Apache and mod_perl are available, this book covers the mod_perl 1.0 and Apache 1.3 generation, which were the stable versions when this book was written. See Chapter 24 and Chapter 25 for more information on the Apache 2.0 and mod_perl 2.0 generation.

Move the downloaded packages into a directory of your choice (for example, /home/stas/src/), proceed with the following steps, and mod_perl will be installed:

panic% cd /home/stas/src
panic% tar -zvxf apache_1.3.xx.tar.gz
panic% tar -zvxf mod_perl-1.xx.tar.gz
panic% cd mod_perl-1.xx
panic% perl Makefile.PL APACHE_SRC=../apache_1.3.xx/src \
panic% make && make test
panic% su
panic# make install

All that remains is to add a few configuration lines to the Apache configuration file (/usr/local/apache/conf/httpd.conf), start the server, and enjoy mod_perl.

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