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cpan - easily interact with CPAN from the command line


  1. # with arguments and no switches, installs specified modules
  2. cpan module_name [ module_name ... ]
  3. # with switches, installs modules with extra behavior
  4. cpan [-cfimt] module_name [ module_name ... ]
  5. # without arguments, starts shell
  6. cpan
  7. # without arguments, but some switches
  8. cpan [-ahrvACDLO]


This script provides a command interface (not a shell) to CPAN. At the moment it uses to do the work, but it is not a one-shot command runner for

Meta Options

These options are mutually exclusive, and the script processes them in this order: [hvCAar]. Once the script finds one, it ignores the others, and then exits after it finishes the task. The script ignores any other command line options.

  • -a

    Creates the autobundle with CPAN::Shell->autobundle.

  • -A module [ module ... ]

    Shows the primary maintainers for the specified modules

  • -C module [ module ... ]

    Show the Changes files for the specified modules

  • -D module [ module ... ]

    Show the module details. This prints one line for each out-of-date module (meaning, modules locally installed but have newer versions on CPAN). Each line has three columns: module name, local version, and CPAN version.

  • -L author [ author ... ]

    List the modules by the specified authors.

  • -h

    Prints a help message.

  • -O

    Show the out-of-date modules.

  • -r

    Recompiles dynamically loaded modules with CPAN::Shell->recompile.

  • -v

    Print the script version and version.

Module options

These options are mutually exclusive, and the script processes them in alphabetical order. It only processes the first one it finds.

  • c

    Runs a `make clean` in the specified module's directories.

  • f

    Forces the specified action, when it normally would have failed.

  • i

    Installed the specified modules.

  • m

    Makes the specified modules.

  • t

    Runs a `make test` on the specified modules.


  1. # print a help message
  2. cpan -h
  3. # print the version numbers
  4. cpan -v
  5. # create an autobundle
  6. cpan -a
  7. # recompile modules
  8. cpan -r
  9. # install modules ( sole -i is optional )
  10. cpan -i Netscape::Booksmarks Business::ISBN
  11. # force install modules ( must use -i )
  12. cpan -fi CGI::Minimal URI



* none noted


Most behaviour, including environment variables and configuration, comes directly from


This source is part of a SourceForge project which always has the latest sources in CVS, as well as all of the previous releases.


If, for some reason, I disappear from the world, one of the other members of the project can shepherd this module appropriately.


Japheth Cleaver added the bits to allow a forced install (-f).

Jim Brandt suggest and provided the initial implementation for the up-to-date and Changes features.

Adam Kennedy pointed out that exit() causes problems on Windows where this script ends up with a .bat extension


brian d foy, <>


Copyright (c) 2001-2006, brian d foy, All Rights Reserved.

You may redistribute this under the same terms as Perl itself.