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TUCoPS :: PC Hacks :: perl.txt

Perl Programming

-->]OO[:[ Perl Programming ]:::::[OO--[ by z0mba ]---[ ]:::
-->[OO]:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::[ ]:::::::

Okay, so I was sitting there wondering what the hell I could write an article
about and came up with two things, Perl Programming and Setting up an FTP 
Server under Linux. I will try and get both these files into f41th 7 but if I
can't then Setting up an FTP Server *will* appear in f41th 8. Anyways, 0n w1f
d4 ph1l3...

Please note: when I start talking in m4d h4x0r t4lk, it is for the benefit of
the lamers that read f41th who are trying to skool themselves cos I know they
just don't understand it otherwise.


Perl stands for Practical Extraction and Report Language and is one of the
favourite scipting languages for *nix platforms. If you've never come across 
perl code before then it is similar in syntax to C, but with the style of 
UNIX shell scripting. Along with that it contains all of the best features 
of every other programming language you've eva used (4nd y3s 1 kn0w 4ll j3w 
l4m3rs h4v3 n3v3r us3d 4ny pr0gr4mm1ng l4ngu4g3s b4, but j3w w1ll h4v3 t0 
t4k3 my w0rd f0r 1t).

Perl is an interpreted language rather than a compiled one (th4t m34ns th4t 
34ch st4t3m3nt 1s tr4nsl4t3d 1nt0 s0urc3 c0de 0n3 4t 4 t1m3 4s 3x3cut10n 
pr0c33ds r4th3r th4n th3 3nt1re pr0gr4m 4ll 4t 0nc3 l1k3 4 c0mp1l3d 0n3), 
which can be either an advantage or a disadvantage whichever way you look at 
it. Perl has been ported to virtually every operating system out there, and 
most Perl programs will run un-modefied on any system that you move them to.
This is definately an advantage. Its also very useful for all those trivial
day-to-day tasks that you don't want to have to write in C and compile.

The good thing about Perl is that its very forgiving as far as things like 
declaring variables, allocating and deallocating memory, and variable types, 
so you can actually get down to the business of writing the code. In fact, 
those concepts don't actually exist in Perl, this results in programs that
are short and to the point, while similar programs writtn in C might spend
half the code just declaring the variables.

A Simple Perl Program

To get you started in the absolute basics of Perl programming, here is a 
very trivial Perl program:

print "the man from Del Monte, he say f41th 0wnz j3w\n";

Thats it, simple ain't it. Type that in, save it to a file called, chmod +x it, and then execute it, simplicity itself.

If by any chance you are familier with shell scripting languages (n0, 1m 
n0t t4lk1ng t0 j3w l4m3rs, 1 kn0w y0u d0n't c0d3), this will look very 
familier. Perl basically combines the simplicity of shell-scripting with 
the powah of a fully-fledged programming language. The first line of the 
program indicates to OS where to find the perl interpreter, this is standard 
procedure with shell scripts.

If /usr/bin/perl is not the correct location for Perl on your system, you 
can find out where it is located by typing "which perl" at the command line.
If j3w do not have Perl installed you might want to go to and
get it.

The second line does exactly what is says - it prints the text enclosed in 
the quotes. The \n is used for a new line character.

Perl Variables and Data Structures

Unlike most programming languages, Perl doesn't have the concept of data-type
(integer, string, char, etc), but it does have several kinds of variable.

Scalar variables, indicated as $variable, are interpreted as numbers or 
strings, as the context warrents. You can treat a variable as a number one 
moment and a string the next if the value of the variable makes sense in that
context. There is a large collection of special variables in Perl, such as
$_, $$ and $<, which Perl keeps track of, and you can use if you want to. ($_
is the default input variable, $$ is the process ID, and $< is the user ID).
As you become more familier with Perl, you will probably find yourself using
these variables, and people will accuse you of writing "read-only" code.

Arrays, indicated as @array, contain one or more elements, which can be 
referred to by index. For example, $names[12] gives me the 13th element in 
the array @names. (its important to remember that numbering starts with 0).

Associative arrays, indicated by %assoc_array, store values that can be
referenced by key. For example, $days{Feb} will give me the element in the
associative array %days that corresponds with Feb.

The following line of Perl code lists all the elements in an associative
array (the foreach construct will be covered later in the phile).

foreach $key (keys %assoc){
     print "$key = $assoc{$key}\n"};

NOTE: $_ is the "default" variable in Perl. In this example, the loop 
variable is $_ because none was specified.

Conditional Statements: if/else

The syntax of a Perl if/else structure is as follows:

if (condition) {
elseif (condition) {
else {

condition can be any statement or comparison. If a statement returns any true
value, the statement(s) will be executed. Here, true is defined as:

     o--> any nonzero number
     o--> any nonzero string; that is, any string that is not 0 or empty
     o--> any conditional that returns a true value.

For example, the following piece of code uses the if/else structure:

if ($favorite eq "d4rkcyde") {
      print "Yes, d4rkcyde 0wnz.\n"
elseif ($favourite eq "PLUK") {
      print "NO!, PLUK is l4m3 as sh1t.\n";
else {
     print "Your favorite grewp is $favorite.\n"

Okay I can tell by now that your pretty impressed wif my uber el8 Perl tekniq
and to be honest, I don't blame j3w one bit, now lets get on with some more
in-depth topics.


Perl has four looping constructs: for, foreach, while, and until.


The for construct performs a statement (or set of statements) for a set of
conditions defined as follows:

for (start condition; end condition; increment function) {

At the beginning of the loop, the start condition is set. Each time the loop
is executed, the increment function is performed until the end condition is 
achieved. This looks much like the traditional for/next loop. The following
code is an example of a for loop:

for ($i=1; $i<=10; $i++) {
      print "$i\n"


The foreach construct performs a statement (or set of statements) for each 
element in a set, such as a list or array:

foreach $name (@names) {
     print "$name\n"


while performs a block of statements while a particular condition is true:

while ($x<10) {
     print "$x\n";


until is the exact opposite of the while statement. It will perform a block
of statements while a particular condition is false - or, rather, it becomes

until ($x>10) {
     print "$x\n";

Regular Expressions

Perl's greatest strength is in its text and file manipulation. This is 
accomplished by using the regular expression (regex) library. Regexes allow
complicated pattern matching and replacement to be done efficiently and
easily. For example, the following one line of code will replace every
ocurrence of the string 'eleet' or the string 'k-rad' with the string 'lame'
in a line of text:

$string =- s/eleet|k-rad/lame/gi;

Without going into too much depth, the following table should explain what
this line actually means:

	$string =-	  [ Performs this pattern match on the text found in the ]
			  [ varibale called $string.                             ]

	s		  [ Substitute.                                          ]

	/		  [ Begins the text to be matched.                       ]

	eleet|k-rad	  [ Matches the text eleet and k-rad. Something to       ]
			  [ to remember though is its looking for the text eleet ]
			  [ and not the word eleet, so it will also match the    ]
			  [ text eleet in eleethax0r.                            ]

	/		  [ Ends text to be matched, begin text to replace it.   ]

	lame		  [ Replaces anything that was matched with the text lame]

	/		  [ Ends replace text.                                   ]

	g		  [ Does this substitution globally; that is, wherever in]
			  [ the string you match the match text (and any number  ]
		  	  [ of times), replaces it.                              ]

	i		  [ The search text is case-insensitive. It will match   ]
			  [ eleet, Eleet, or ElEeT.                              ]

	;		  [ Indicates the end of the line code.                  ]

You might think that replacing a string of text with another is quite a 
simple task but the code needed to do that same thing in another language 
such as C, is mad big.

Access to the Shell

Perl is very useful for admin functions because, for one thing, it has access 
to the shell. This means that any process that you might ordinarily do by
typing commands to the shell, Perl can do for you. This is done with the ``
syntax; for example, the following code will print a directory listing:

$curr_dir = `pwd`;
@listing = `ls -la`;
pint "Listing for $curr_dir\n";
foreach $file (@listing) {
     print "$file";

NOTE: the `` notation uses the backtick found above the tab key, not the 
single quote. Thought i'd mention that cos a few people don't even know it 
exists (j3w kn0w wh0 j3w 4r3).

Access to the command line is pretty common in shell scripting languages but
is less common in higher level programmning languages.

Command-Line Mode

In addition to writing programs, Perl can be used from the command line like
any other shell scripting language. This enables you to smack up Perl 
utilities on-the-fly, rather than having to create a file and execute it.
For example, running the following command line will run through the file
foo and replace every occurence of the string k-rad with el8, saving a 
back-up copy of the file at foo.bak:

perl -p -i.bak -e s/k-rad/el8/g foo

The -p switch causes Perl to perform the command for all files listed (in
this case, just one file). The -i switch indicates that the file specified
is to be edited in place, and the original backed up with the extension
specified. If no extension is supplied, no backup copy is made. The -e switch
indicates that what follows is one or more lines of a script.

Automation Using Perl

Perl is great for automating some of the tasks involved in maintaining and
administering a UNIX machine. Because of its text manipulation abilities
and its access to the shell, Perl can be used to do any of the processes that
you might ordinarily do by hand.

The following sections are basically just examples of Perl programs that you
might use in the daily maintenance of your box.

Moving Files

If for example you run a secure FTP site, then this is how it might work. 
Incoming files are placed in an "uploads" directory, when they have been
checked, they are moved to a "private" directory for retrievel. Permissions
are set in such a way that the file is not shown in a directory listing, but
can be retrieved if the filename is known. The person who placed the file on 
the server is informed via e-mail that the file is now available for 

Seeing as directory listings aren't available it would be a good idea to 
make retrievel of the filename available in all-uppercase and all-lowercase 
as well as the original filename.

The following Perl program is to perform all those tasks with a single 
command. When the file is determined as ready to go onto the FTP site, you
only need to type: move filename user, where filename is the name of the 
file to be moved, and user is the e-mail addy of the person who uploaded it
ie: person to be notified.

 1: #!/usr/bin/perl
 2: #
 3: # Move a file from /uploads to /private
 4: $file = @ARGV[0];
 5: $user = @ARGV[1];
 7: if ($user eq "") {&usage}
 8: else {
 9:      if (-e "/home/ftp/uploads/$file")
10:           {`cp /home/ftp/uploads/$file /home/ftp/private/$file`;
11:           chmod 0644, "/home/ftp/private/$file";
12:           `rm -f /home/ftp/uploads/$file`;
13:           if (uc($file) ne $file) {
14:                $ucfile = uc($file);
15:                `ln /home/ftp/private/$file /home/ftp/private/$ucfile`;
16:               }
17:           if (lc($file) ne $file) {
18:                 $lcfile = lc($file);
19:                 `ln /home/ftp/private/$file /home/ftp/private/$lcfile`;
20:                }
22: # Send mail
23: open (MAIL, "| /usr/sbin/sendmail -t ftpadmin,$user");
24: print MAIL <<EndMail;
25: To: ftpadmin,$user
26: From: ftpadmin
27: Subject: File ($file) moved
29: The file $file has been moved
30: The file is now available as
33: ftpadmin\
34: ================================
35: EndMail
36: close MAIL;
37: }
39:     else { # File does not exist
40:          print "File does not exist!\n";
41:          }   # End else (-e $file)
43: } # End else ($user eq "")
45: sub usage {
46: print "move <filename> <username>\n";
47: print "where <username> is the user that you are moving this for.\n\n";
48: }

NOTE: would be replaced with the domain associated with your box.

Without going through the entire code line by line, the following paragraphs
look at some of the points that demonstrate the powah and syntax of Perl.

In lines 4-5, the array @ARGV contains all the command-line arguments. The 
place where one argument ends and another begins is taken to be every space,
unless arguments are given in quotes.

In line 9, the -e file tests for the existence of a file. If the file does 
not exist, perhaps the user gave the wrong filename, or one of the other
server admins beat you to it. Perl enables you to open a pipe to some other 
process and print data to it. This allows Perl to *use* any other program
that has an interactive user interface, such as sendmail, or an FTP session.
Thats basically the purpose of line 23.

The << syntax allows you to print multiple lines of text until the EOF string 
is encountered. This eliminates the necessity to have multiple print
commands following one another, ie:

24: print MAIL <<EndMail;
35: EndMail

The subroutine syntax allows modularization of code into functions. Sub-
routines are declared with the syntax shown on lines 45-48, and called with
the & notation, as on line 7:

7: ... {&usage}
45: sub usage {
48: }

Purging Logs

Many programs maintain some variety of logs. Often, much of the info in these
logz is redundant or useless (or maybe unwanted, like if the logz are on a 
box j3w just hax0red). The following Perl program will remove all lines from
a file that contain a particular word or phrase, so lines that are not
important or are unwanted can be purged.

 1: #!/usr/bin/perl
 2: #
 3: #       Be careful using this program!!
 4: #       This will remove all lines that contain the given word
 5: #
 6: #       Usage:  remove <word> <file>
 7: ###########
 8: $word=@ARGV[0];
 9: $file=@ARGV[1];
11: unless ($file)  {
12: print "Usage:  remove <word> <file>\n"; }
14: else    {
15: open (FILE, "$file");
16: @lines=<FILE>;
17: close FILE;
19: # remove the offending lines
20: @lines = grep (!/$word/, @lines);
22: #  Write it back
23: open (NEWFILE, ">$file");
24: for (@lines)    { print NEWFILE }
25: close NEWFILE;
26:         }  #  End else

This listing is pretty self-explanatory. It reads in the file and then moves 
the lines that contain that string using Perl's grep command, which is
similar to the standard UNIX grep. If you save this as a file called 'remove'
and place it in your path, you will have a quick way to purge server logs of
unwanted messages.

Posting to Usenet

If you need to post to Usenet periodically, for example, to post a FAQ, the 
following program can automoate the process for you. In the following code, 
the text that is posted is read in from a text file, but you can modify it so
that your input can come from anywhere.

This program uses the Net::NNTP module, which is a standard part of the Perl

 1: #!/usr/bin/perl
 2: open (POST, "post.file");
 3: @post = <POST>;
 4: close POST;
 5: use Net::NNTP;
 7: $NNTPhost = 'news';
 9: $nntp = Net::NNTP->new($NNTPhost)
10:         or die "Cannot contact $NNTPhost: $!";
12: # $nntp->debug(1);
13: $nntp->post()
14:         or die "Could not post article: $!";
15: $nntp->datasend("Newsgroups: news.announce\n");
16: $nntp->datasend("Subject: FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions\n");
17: $nntp->datasend("From: L4m3r <lame\>\n");
18: $nntp->datasend("\n\n");
19: for (@post)     {
20: $nntp->datasend($_);
21: }
23: $nntp->quit;

Shout Outs

Thats it for this file, hope its of some help to all you uber hakkahs out 
there and I hope that you now realise (if you didn't before) the full 
potential of Perl.

[hybr1d] [bodie] [JaSuN] [fORCE] [mranon] [shadow-x] [exstriad] [sonicborg]
[qubik] [downtime] [dialt0ne] [elf] [n1no] [sintax] [xio] [psyclone] [knight]

big up to the d4rkcyde crew

K33p 1t r34l, P34c3

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