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CPAN, the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network, is an archive of over 20,000 modules of software written in Perl, as well as documentation for it.[1] It has a presence on the World Wide Web at and is mirrored worldwide at more than 200 locations.[2] CPAN can denote either the archive network itself, or the Perl program that acts as an interface to the network and as an automated software installer (somewhat like a package manager). Most software on CPAN is free and open source software.[3]



Like many programming languages, Perl has mechanisms to use external libraries of code, making one file contain common routines used by several programs. Perl calls these modules. Perl modules are typically installed in one of several directories whose paths are placed in the Perl interpreter when it is first compiled; on Unix-like operating systems, common paths include /usr/lib/perl5, /usr/local/lib/perl5, and several of their subdirectories.

Perl comes with a small set of core modules. Some of these perform bootstrapping tasks, such as ExtUtils::MakeMaker, which is used for building and installing other extension modules; others, like, are merely commonly-used. The authors of Perl do not expect this limited group to meet every need, however.

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