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PAR::Tutorial(3pm)    User Contributed Perl Documentation   PAR::Tutorial(3pm)

       PAR::Tutorial - Cross-Platform Packaging and Deployment with PAR

       This is a tutorial on PAR, first appeared at the 7th Perl Conference.
       The HTML version of this tutorial is available online as

   On Deploying Perl Applications
        % -rootpw="Z1ON0101"
        Perl v5.6.1 required--this is only v5.6.0, stopped at line 1.
        BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at line 1.

       o   Q: "Help! I can't run your program!"

       o   A1: Install Perl & "perl -MCPAN -e'install(...)'"

           o   How do we know which modules are needed?

           o   New versions of CPAN modules may break ""

       o   A2: Install Perl & "tar zxf my_perllib.tgz"

           o   Possibly overwriting existing modules; not cross-platform at

       o   A3: Use the executable generated by "perlcc"

           o   Impossible to debug; "perlcc" usually does not work anyway

   PAR, the Perl Archive Toolkit
       o   Do what JAR (Java Archive) does for Perl

           o   Aggregates modules, scripts and other files into a Zip file

           o   Easy to generate, update and extract

           o   Version consistency: solves forward-compatibility problems

           o   Developed by community: ""

       o   PAR files can be packed into self-contained scripts

           o   Automatically scans perl script for dependencies

           o   Bundles all necessary 3rd-party modules with it

           o   Requires only core Perl to run on the target machine

           o   PAR also comes with "pp", the Perl Packager:

                % pp -o sshnuke.exe # stand-alone executable!

   Simple Packaging
       o   PAR files are just Zip files with modules in it

       o   Any Zip tools can generate them:

            % zip foo.par        # pack two modules
            % zip -r bar.par lib/          # grab all modules in lib/

       o   To load modules from PAR files:

            use PAR;
            use lib "foo.par";             # the .par part is optional
            use Hello;

       o   This also works:

            use PAR "/home/mylibs/*.par";  # put all of them into @INC
            use Hello;

   PAR Loaders
       o   Use "" to run files inside a PAR archive:

            % foo.par               # looks for '' by default
            % foo.par       # runs script/ in foo.par

       o   Same thing, with the stand-alone "parl" or "parl.exe":

            % parl foo.par                 # no perl or needed!
            % parl foo.par         # ditto

       o   The PAR loader can prepend itself to a PAR file:

           o   "-b" bundles non-core modules needed by "":

                % -b -O./ foo.par # self-contained script

           o   "-B" bundles core modules in addition to "-b":

                % parl -B -O./foo.exe foo.par  # self-contained binary

   Dependency Scanning
       o   Recursively scan dependencies with "":

            # Legend: [C]ore [X]ternal [S]ubmodule [?]NotOnCPAN
            'Crypt::SSLeay'       => '0', #  X   #
            'Net::HTTP'           => '0', #      #
            'Crypt::SSLeay::X509' => '0', # S    # Crypt::SSLeay
            'Net::HTTP::Methods'  => '0', # S    # Net::HTTP
            'Compress::Zlib'      => '0', #  X   # Net::HTTP::Methods

       o   Scan an one-liner, list all involved files:

            % -V -e "use Dynaloader;"
            # auto/DynaLoader/ [autoload]
            # auto/DynaLoader/extralibs.ld [autoload]
            # auto/File/Glob/ [data]
            # auto/File/Glob/ [shared]

   Perl Packager: "pp"
       o   Combines scanning, zipping and loader-embedding:

            % pp -o out.exe         # self-contained .exe
            % out.exe                      # runs anywhere on the same OS

       o   Bundle additional modules:

            % pp -o out.exe -M CGI  # pack CGI + its dependencies, too

       o   Pack one-liners:

            % pp -o out.exe -e 'print "Hi!"'   # turns one-liner into executable

       o   Generate PAR files instead of executables:

            % pp -p                 # makes 'source.par'
            % pp -B -p              # include core modules

   How it works
       o   Command-line options are almost identical to "perlcc"'s

           o   Also supports "gcc"-style long options:

                % pp --gui --verbose --output=out.exe

       o   Small initial overhead; no runtime overhead

       o   Dependencies are POD-stripped before packing

       o   Loads modules directly into memory on demand

       o   Shared libraries (DLLs) are extracted with File::Temp

       o   Works on Perl 5.6.0 or above

       o   Tested on Win32 (VC++ and MinGW), FreeBSD, NetBSD, Linux, MacOSX,
           Cygwin, AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, Tru64...

   Aggregating multiple programs
       o   A common question:

            > I have used pp to make several standalone applications which work
            > great, the only problem is that for each executable that I make, I am
            > assuming the parl.exe is somehow bundled into the resulting exe.

       o   The obvious workaround:

            You can ship parl.exe by itself, along with .par files built
            by "pp -p", and run those PAR files by associating them to parl.exe.

       o   On platforms that have "ln", there is a better solution:

            % pp --output=a.out  # two scripts in one!
            % ln a.out b.out               # symlink also works
            % ./a.out                      # runs
            % ./b.out                      # runs

   Cross-platform Packages
       o   Of course, there is no cross-platform binary format

       o   Pure-perl PAR packages are cross-platform by default

           o   However, XS modules are specific to Perl version and platform

           o   Multiple versions of a XS module can co-exist in a PAR file

       o   Suppose we need "out.par" on both Win32 and Finix:

            C:\> pp --multiarch --output=out.par
            ...copy and out.par to a Finix machine...
            % pp --multiarch --output=out.par

       o   Now it works on both platforms:

            % parl out.par                 # runs
            % perl -MPAR=out.par -e '...'  # uses modules inside out.par

   The Anatomy of a PAR file
       o   Modules can reside in several directories:

            /                      # casual packaging only
            /lib/                  # standard location
            /arch/                 # for creating from blib/
            /i386-freebsd/         # i.e. $Config{archname}
            /5.8.0/                # i.e. Perl version number
            /5.8.0/i386-freebsd/   # combination of the two above

       o   Scripts are stored in one of the two locations:

            /                      # casual packaging only
            /script/               # standard location

       o   Shared libraries may be architecture- or perl-version-specific:


       o   PAR files may recursively contain other PAR files:


   Special files
       o   MANIFEST

           o   Index of all files inside PAR

           o   Can be parsed with "ExtUtils::Manifest"

       o   META.yml

           o   Dependency, license, runtime options

           o   Can be parsed with "YAML"

       o   SIGNATURE

           o   OpenPGP-signed digital signature

           o   Can be parsed and verified with "Module::Signature"

   Advantages over perlcc, PerlApp and Perl2exe
       o   This is not meant to be a flame

           o   All three maintainers have contributed to PAR directly; I'm

       o   perlcc

           o   "The code generated in this way is not guaranteed to work...
               Use for production purposes is strongly discouraged." (from
               perldoc perlcc)

           o   Guaranteed to not work is more like it

       o   PerlApp / Perl2exe

           o   Expensive: Need to pay for each upgrade

           o   Non-portable: Only available for limited platforms

           o   Proprietary: Cannot extend its features or fix bugs

           o   Obfuscated: Vendor and black-hats can see your code, but you

           o   Inflexible: Does not work with existing Perl installations

   MANIFEST: Best viewed with Mozilla
       o   The URL of "MANIFEST" inside "/home/autrijus/foo.par":


       o   Open it in a Gecko browser (e.g. Netscape 6+) with Javascript

       o   No needed to unzip anything; just click on files to view them

   META.yml: Metadata galore
       o   Static, machine-readable distribution metadata

           o   Supported by "Module::Build", "ExtUtils::MakeMaker",

       o   A typical "pp"-generated "META.yml" looks like this:

            build_requires: {}
            conflicts: {}
            dist_name: out.par
            distribution_type: par
            dynamic_config: 0
            generated_by: 'Perl Packager version 0.03'
            license: unknown
              clean: 0
              signature: ''
              verbatim: 0
              version: 0.68

       o   The "par:" settings controls its runtime behavior

   SIGNATURE: Signing and verifying packages
       o   OpenPGP clear-signed manifest with SHA1 digests

           o   Supported by "Module::Signature", "CPANPLUS" and

       o   A typical "SIGNATURE" looks like this:

            -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
            Hash: SHA1

            SHA1 8a014cd6d0f6775552a01d1e6354a69eb6826046 AUTHORS
            -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
            -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

       o   Use "pp" and "cpansign" to work with signatures:

            % pp -s -o foo.par      # make and sign foo.par from
            % cpansign -s foo.par  # sign this PAR file
            % cpansign -v foo.par  # verify this PAR file

   Perl Servlets with Apache::PAR
       o   Framework for self-contained Web applications

           o   Similar to Java's "Web Application Archive" (WAR) files

           o   Works with mod_perl 1.x or 2.x

       o   A complete web application inside a ".par" file

           o   Apache configuration, static files, Perl modules...

           o   Supports Static, Registry and PerlRun handlers

           o   Can also load all PARs under a directory

       o   One additional special file: "web.conf"

            Alias /myapp/cgi-perl/ ##PARFILE##/
            <Location /myapp/cgi-perl>
                Options +ExecCGI
                SetHandler perl-script
                PerlHandler Apache::PAR::Registry

   Hon Dah, A-par-che!
       o   First, make a "hondah.par" from an one-liner:

            # use the "web.conf" from the previous slide
            % pp -p -o hondah.par -e 'print "Hon Dah!\n"' \
                 --add web.conf
            % chmod a+x hondah.par

       o   Add this to "httpd.conf", then restart apache:

            <IfDefine MODPERL2>
            PerlModule Apache2
            PerlAddVar PARInclude /home/autrijus/hondah.par
            PerlModule Apache::PAR

       o   Test it out:

            % GET http://localhost/myapp/cgi-perl/
            Hon Dah!

       o   Instant one-liner web application that works!

   On-demand library fetching
       o   With LWP installed, your can use remote PAR files:

            use PAR;
            use lib '';
            use DBI;    # always up to date!

       o   Modules are now cached under $ENV{PAR_GLOBAL_TEMP}

       o   Auto-updates with "LWP::Simple::mirror"

           o   Download only if modified

           o   Safe for offline use after the first time

           o   May use "SIGNATURE" to prevent DNS-spoofing

       o   Makes large-scale deployment a breeze

           o   Upgrades from a central location

           o   No installers needed

   Code Obfuscation
       o   Also known as source-hiding techniques

           o   It is not encryption

           o   Offered by PerlApp, Perl2Exe, Stunnix...

       o   Usually easy to defeat

           o   Take optree dump from memory, feed to "B::Deparse"

           o   If you just want to stop a casual "grep", "deflate" already

       o   PAR now supports pluggable input filters with "pp -f"

           o   Bundled examples: Bleach, PodStrip and PatchContent

           o   True encryption using "Crypt::*"

           o   Or even _product activation_ over the internet

       o   Alternatively, just keep core logic in your server and use RPC

   Accessing packed files
       o   To get the host archive from a packed program:

            my $zip = PAR::par_handle($0); # an Archive::Zip object
            my $content = $zip->contents('MANIFEST');

       o   Same thing, but with "read_file()":

            my $content = PAR::read_file('MANIFEST');

       o   Loaded PAR files are stored in %PAR::LibCache:

            use PAR '/home/mylibs/*.par';
            while (my ($filename, $zip) = each %PAR::LibCache) {
                print "[$filename - MANIFEST]\n";
                print $zip->contents('MANIFEST');

   Packing GUI applications
       o   GUI toolkits often need to link with shared libraries:

            # search for libncurses under library paths and pack it
            % pp -l ncurses  # same for Tk, Wx, Gtk, Qt...

       o   Use "pp --gui" on Win32 to eliminate the console window:

            # pack '' into a console-less 'out.exe' (Win32 only)
            % pp --gui -o out.exe

       o   "Can't locate Foo/Widget/ in @INC"?

           o   Some toolkits (notably Tk) autoloads modules without "use" or

           o   Hence "pp" and "Module::ScanDeps" may fail to detect them

           o   Tk problems mostly fixed by now, but other toolkits may still

           o   You can work around it with "pp -M" or an explicit "require"

           o   Or better, send a short test-case to "" so we can
               fix it

   Precompiled CPAN distributions
       o   Installing XS extensions from CPAN was difficult

           o   Some platforms do not come with a compiler (Win32, MacOSX...)

           o   Some headers or libraries may be missing

           o itself used to suffer from both problems

       o   ...but not anymore -- "Module::Install" to the rescue!

            # same old Makefile.PL, with a few changes
            use inc::Module::Install;      # was "use ExtUtils::MakeMaker;"
            WriteMakefile( ... );          # same as the original
            check_nmake();                 # make sure the user have nmake
            par_base('AUTRIJUS');          # your CPAN ID or a URL
            fetch_par() unless can_cc();   # use precompiled PAR only if necessary

       o   Users will not notice anything, except now it works

           o   Of course, you still need to type "make par" and upload the
               precompiled package

           o   PAR users can also install it directly with "parl -i"

   Platform-specific Tips
       o   Win32 and other icon-savvy platforms

           o   Needs 3rd-party tools to add icons to "pp"-generated

           o   PE Header manipulation in Perl -- volunteers wanted!

       o   Linux and other libc-based platforms

           o   Try to avoid running "pp" on a bleeding-edge version of the OS

           o   Older versions with an earlier libc won't work with new ones

       o   Solaris and other zlib-lacking platforms (but not Win32)

           o   You need a static-linked "Compress::Zlib" before installing PAR

           o   In the future, PAR may depend on "Compress::Zlib::Static"

       o   Any platform with limited bandwidth or disk space

           o   Use UPX to minimize the executable size

   Thank you!
       o   Additional resources

           o   Mailing list: ""

           o   Subscribe: Send a blank email to ""

           o   List archive: <>

           o   PAR::Intro: <>

           o   Apache::PAR: <>

           o   Module::Install: <>

       o   Any questions?

   Bonus Slides: PAR Internals
   Overview of's Implementation
       o   Here begins the scary part

           o   Grues, Dragons and Jabberwocks abound...

           o   You are going to learn weird things about Perl internals

       o   PAR invokes four areas of Perl arcana:

           o   @INC code references

           o   On-the-fly source filtering

           o   Overriding "DynaLoader::bootstrap()" to handle XS modules

           o   Making self-bootstrapping binary executables

       o   The first two only works on 5.6 or later

           o   DynaLoader and %INC are there since Perl 5 was born

           o   PAR currently needs 5.6, but a 5.005 port is possible

   Code References in @INC
       o   On 1999-07-19, Ken Fox submitted a patch to P5P

           o   To _enable using remote modules_ by putting hooks in @INC

           o   It's accepted to come in Perl 5.6, but undocumented until 5.8

           o   Type "perldoc -f require" to read the nitty-gritty details

       o   Coderefs in @INC may return a fh, or undef to 'pass':

            push @INC, sub {
                my ($coderef, $filename) = @_;  # $coderef is \&my_sub
                open my $fh, "wget$filename |";
                return $fh;        # using remote modules, indeed!

       o   Perl 5.8 let you open a file handle to a string, so we just use

                   open my $fh, '<', \($zip->memberNamed($filename)->contents);
                   return $fh;

       o   But Perl 5.6 does not have that, and I don't want to use temp

   Source Filtering without Filter::* Modules
       o   ... Undocumented features to the rescue!

           o   It turns out that @INC hooks can return two values

           o   The first is still the file handle

           o   The second is a code reference for line-by-line source

       o   This is how "Acme::use::strict::with::pride" works:

            # Force all modules used to use strict and warnings
            open my $fh, "<", $filename or return;
            my @lines = ("use strict; use warnings;\n", "#line 1 \"$full\"\n");
            return ($fh, sub {
                return 0 unless @lines;
                push @lines, $_; $_ = shift @lines; return length $_;

   Source Filtering without Filter::* Modules (cont.)
       o   But we don't really have a filehandle for anything

       o   Another undocumented feature saves the day!

       o   We can actually omit the first return value altogether:

            # Return all contents line-by-line from the file inside PAR
            my @lines = split(
            return (sub {
                $_ = shift(@lines);
                return length $_;

   Overriding DynaLoader::bootstrap
       o   XS modules have dynamically loaded libraries

           o   They cannot be loaded as part of a zip file, so we extract them

           o   Must intercept DynaLoader's library-finding process

       o   Module names are passed to "bootstrap" for XS loading

           o   During the process, it calls "dl_findfile" to locate the file

           o   So we install pre-hooks around both functions

       o   Our "_bootstrap" just checks if the library is in PARs

           o   If yes, extract it to a "File::Temp" temp file

               o   The file will be automatically cleaned up when the program

           o   It then pass the arguments to the original "bootstrap"

           o   Finally, our "dl_findfile" intercepts known filenames and
               return it

   Anatomy of a Self-Contained PAR executable
       o   The par script ($0) itself

           o   May be in plain-text or native executable format

       o   Any number of embedded files

           o   Typically used to bootstrap PAR's various dependencies

           o   Each section begins with the magic string "FILE"

           o   Length of filename in pack('N') format and the filename

           o   File length in pack('N') and the file's content (not

       o   One PAR file

           o   Just a regular zip file with the magic string "PK\003\004"

       o   Ending section

           o   A pack('N') number of the total length of FILE and PAR sections

           o   Finally, there must be a 8-bytes magic string: "\\012"

   Self-Bootstrapping Tricks
       o   All we can expect is a working perl interpreter

           o   The self-contained script *must not* use any modules at all

           o   But to process PAR files, we need XS modules like

       o   Answer: bundle all modules + libraries used by

           o   That's what the "FILE" section in the previous slide is for

           o   Load modules to memory, and write object files to disk

           o   Then use a local @INC hook to load them on demand

       o   Minimizing the amount of temporary files

           o   First, try to load PerlIO::scalar and File::Temp

           o   Set up an END hook to unlink all temp files up to this point

           o   Load other bundled files, and look in the compressed PAR

           o   This can be much easier with a pure-perl "inflate()"; patches

   Thank you (again)!
       o   Any questions, please?

       PAR, pp,, parl

       ex::lib::zip, Acme::use::strict::with::pride

       App::Packer, Apache::PAR, CPANPLUS, Module::Install

       Audrey Tang <>

       You can write to the mailing list at <>, or send an empty
       mail to <> to participate in the discussion.

       Please submit bug reports to <>.

       Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 by Audrey Tang <>.

       This document is free documentation; you can redistribute it and/or
       modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

       See LICENSE.

perl v5.20.2                      2016-12-18                PAR::Tutorial(3pm)

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