Minimal Perl
For UNIX/Linux People

Tim Maher
Foreword by Dr. Damian Conway

October 2006 | 504 pages | B&W
ISBN: 9781932394504

$44.99 Softbound print + PDF eBook
$35.99 eBook edition (PDF only)


Look Inside Resources Downloads Author interview

Interview Tim MaherWatch author Tim Maher as he discusses with Manning publisher Marjan Bace how he found out about his #1 ranking, the Slash review that helped propel his book up the charts, the unique features of Minimal Perl, and the struggles of writing a first book.


"If you are a Unix/Linux user and wish to learn Perl, I recommend this book."
-- George Wooley, and

"This book is not perl tapas. It is a survival tool."
-- William M. Julien, HPC Unix Performance Analyst, Fortune 100 Company

"No-nonsense and practical, yet with wit and charm. A joy to read."
-- Dan Sanderson, Software Developer

"Shows style, not just facts, valuable."
-- Brian Downs, former Training Director, Lucent Technologies

"Brilliant, never tedious, highly recommended!"
-- Jon Allen, Maintainer of

"You could have chosen no better primer than this book."
-- Damian Conway, from the Foreword

Perl is a complex language that can be difficult to master. Perl advocates boast that "There's More Than One Way To Do It", but do you really want to learn several ways of saying the same thing to a computer?

To make Perl more accessible, Dr. Tim Maher has over the years designed and taught an essential subset of the language that is smaller, yet practical and powerful. With this engaging book you can now benefit from "Minimal Perl", even if all you know about Unix is grep.

You will learn how to write simple Perl commands (many just one-liners) that go far beyond the limitations of Unix utilities, and those of Linux, MacOS/X, etc. And you¹ll acquire the more advanced Perl skills used in scripts by capitalizing on your knowledge of related Shell resources. Sprinkled throughout are many Unix-specific Perl tips.

This book is especially suitable for system administrators, webmasters, and software developers.

What¹s Inside:


Dr. Tim Maher's multi-decade career as a software professional includes stints at U.C. Berkeley as the Humanities Computer Consultant, at the University of Utah as a Professor of Computer Science, and at AT&T, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard, and Consultix as a Course Developer/Lecturer on operating systems and programming languages. Along the way, he's taught UNIX, Linux, or Perl to many thousands of individuals--ranging from technology-phobic poets to corporate IT engineers. Tim founded Seattle's Perl Users Group, and served as its leader for six years. Many of its 400+ members contributed useful ideas to this book. In his spare time, he enjoys the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, where he lives.


Perl is a lamb in wolf's clothing. It has a ferocious reputation for incomprehensibility ("executable line-noise") and excessive power ("the Swiss-Army chainsaw"), but underneath lurks a kinder, gentler programming language than whatever you're using now.

Of course, Perl can be complex. After all, very few other popular languages have so many advanced built-in capabilities, which is one reason why it rates as one of the most sophisticated programming languages in widespread use today.

Fortunately, unlike many other programming languages, Perl also comes standard with one other vital feature: a gentle learning curve. You don't have to understand a multitude of high-end programming constructs before you can do useful work with it. If you're familiar with the basic tools of Unix/Linux -- grep, sed, awk, find, and the shell itself -- then many of the features of Perl will seem hauntingly familiar.

Perl's creator, Larry Wall, once described his language as "a cleaned up and summarized version of that wonderful semi-natural language known as 'Unix'". And that's precisely the direction from which this book leads you into the depths of the language; by showing how Perl has evolved 'Unix'into a dialect that is much more powerful, but also much easier to use.

If you're already fluent in Perl's mother tongue, and want to discover how expressive and poetic Perl itself can be, you could have chosen no better primer than this book and no better guide than Dr Tim Maher, a gifted teacher and a decorated veteran of both the Unix world and the Perl community.

So, welcome to Perl! You don't have to come from *nix to work here ...but it certainly helps.

Damian Conway