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Debian Perl Policy
Chapter 2 - Perl Packaging

2.1 Versions

At any given time, the package perl should represent the current stable upstream version of Perl revision 5 (see Perl 6, Appendix A).

Only one package may contain the /usr/bin/perl binary and that package must either be perl or a dependency of that package (see Base Package, Section 2.2).

Where possible, Perl should be compiled to provide binary compatibility to at least the last released package version to allow a grace period over which binary module packages may be re-built against the new package (see Binary and Other Architecture Dependent Modules, Section 4.4.2).

The perl-base package must provide perlapi-abiname for all released package versions it is compatible with. The choice of abiname is arbitrary, but if it differs from $Config{version}[1], it must be specified in $Config{debian_abi}.

2.2 Base Package

In order to provide a minimal installation of Perl for use by applications without requiring the whole of Perl to be installed, the perl-base package contains the binary and a basic set of modules.

As Perl has been part of the essential set for some time and is used without dependencies by such things as package maintainer scripts, perl-base must be priority required and marked as essential.

Note that the perl-base package is intended only to provide for exceptional circumstances and the contents may change. In general, only packages which form part of the base system should use only the facilities of perl-base rather than declaring a dependency on perl.

2.3 Module Path

Perl searches three different locations for modules, referred to in this document as core in which modules distributed with Perl are installed, vendor for packaged modules and site for modules installed by the local administrator.

The module search path (@INC) in the Debian packages has been ordered to include these locations in the following order:

site (current)

Modules installed by the local administrator for the current version of Perl (see Locally Installed Modules, Chapter 3).

     $Config{sitearch}  (currently /usr/local/lib/perl/version)
     $Config{sitelib}   (currently /usr/local/share/perl/version)

Where version indicates the current Perl version ($Config{version}).

These locations, particularly $Config{sitearch}, may change if the binary interface between the Perl interpreter and compiled modules has to be changed in an incompatible way without a change in version. While this will only be done as a last resort, packages should use $Config{sitelib} and $Config{sitearch}, not hardcode the current locations.[2]


Packaged modules (see Packaged Modules, Chapter 4).

     $Config{vendorarch} (currently /usr/lib/perl5)
     $Config{vendorlib}  (currently /usr/share/perl5)

These locations, particularly $Config{vendorarch}, may change if necessary[3]. Packages should use $Config{vendorlib} and $Config{vendorarch}, not hardcode the current locations.[4]


Modules included in the core Perl distribution.

     $Config{archlib} (currently /usr/lib/perl/shortversion)
     $Config{privlib} (currently /usr/share/perl/shortversion)

Where shortversion indicates the current Perl major version (for example 5.18).

These locations should be considered internal to the perl source package. If necessary, packages should use $Config{archlib} and $Config{privlib} instead of hardcoding the current locations.[5]

site (old)

site directories (as above) for modules installed with previously released perl packages for which the current package is binary compatible are included if present.

In each of the directory pairs above, the lib component is for binary (XS) modules, and share for architecture-independent (pure-perl) modules.

2.4 Documentation

The POD files and manual pages which do not refer to programs may be split out into a separate perl-doc package.

Manual pages distributed with packages built from the perl source package must be installed into the standard directories:


Manual pages for programs and scripts are installed into /usr/share/man/man1 with the extension .1.


Manual pages for modules are installed into /usr/share/man/man3 with the extension .3perl.

The extensions used for manual pages distributed with module packages are different. See Vendor Directories, Section 4.1.

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Debian Perl Policy

version, 2016-03-30

Raphaël Hertzog
Brendan O'Dea
The Debian Policy mailing list mailto:debian-policy@lists.debian.org