Frequently asked questions about Perl 6


What's the difference between Raku, Rakudo and Perl 6?

Properly speaking, Rakudo is an implementation of Perl 6. It's currently the one that's being developed, but there have been other implementations in the past and there will likely be others in the future. Perl 6 (which can also be called "Raku") is the definition of the language. When talking about the current interpreter, Rakudo and Perl 6 can be used interchangeably.

When was Perl 6 released?

The Rakudo 2015.12 implementation version was released on December 25th 2015.

Is there a Perl 6 version 6.0.0?

No. The first stable language specification version is v6.c ("Christmas"). Future versions of the spec may have point releases (e.g. v6.d.2) or major releases (e.g., v6.e).

Running perl6 -v will display the language version your compiler implements:

$ perl6 -v
This is Rakudo version 2017.07 built on MoarVM version 2017.07
implementing Perl 6.c.

When was v6.d released?

The v6.d Specification was released on Diwali 2018, which was November 6–7 2018, in a convenient time zone. 6.d was enabled by default in the Rakudo compiler release of 2018.11.

The vast majority of 6.d features were already implemented and available in the Rakudo compiler without requiring any special pragmas, as they did not conflict with the 6.c specification. A smaller set of features and behaviors is available automatically if you have the use v6.d pragma at the top of the file. The rest of about 3100 new commits to the language specification simply clarify previously undefined behavior.

As a Perl 6 user, what should I install?

Mac users can use the latest Rakudo Star DMG binary installer at https://rakudo.org/downloads/star

Windows users can use the Rakudo Star MSI binary installer. You will need Windows Git and Strawberry Perl 5 to use zef to install library modules.

Linux users probably want to download Rakudo Star and follow the compilation instructions at https://www.perl6.org/downloads/.

There should be Linux and Mac binaries available from vendors and third parties, although vendor versions may be outdated. Versions before Rakudo release of 2015.12 should be avoided.

There's an official Rakudo Star docker image at https://hub.docker.com/_/rakudo-star/

As an advanced user I want to track Rakudo development.

An option is to clone the repository and build it. This will install work in progress which is minimally-tested and may contain severe bugs. If you're interested in contributing to Rakudo Perl 6 compiler, you may find Z-Script helper tool useful.

To install the last official monthly release, check out the tag visible at https://raw.githubusercontent.com/rakudo/rakudo/master/VERSION or set up a helper command.

Some users choose to use rakudobrew, which allows installation of multiple versions of rakudo. Be sure to read its documentation.

In either case you will probably need to also install zef and p6doc from the ecosystem.

Where can I find good documentation on Perl 6?

See the official documentation website (especially its "Language" section) as well as the Resources page. You can also consult this great cheatsheet.

perl6book.com contains a list of dead tree and electronic books.

Be mindful of publication dates when reading third-party articles. Anything published before December, 2015 likely describes a pre-release version of Perl 6.

You can always get help from a live human in our help chat or search the chat logs to find previous conversations and discussions.

Can I get some books about Perl 6?

Here are some available books, in alphabetical order:

A list of books published or in progress is maintained in perl6.org.

What is the Perl 6 specification?

The specification refers to the official test suite for Perl 6. It's called roast and is hosted on github. Any compiler that passes the tests is deemed to implement that version of the Perl 6 specification.

Roast's master branch corresponds to the latest development that isn't necessarily part of any specification yet. Other branches correspond to specific versions; for example, "6.c-errata".

So 6.c-errata is a released language version we don't change other than to fix errors in tests (the "errata") whereas master is the unreleased work-in-progress that may become the next language version. Its current state is not necessarily prescriptive of the next language version's behavior since new additions will be reviewed for inclusion into the release.

Yes, see glossary.

I'm a Perl 5 programmer. Where is a list of differences between Perl 5 and Perl 6?

There are several Perl 5 to Perl 6 guides in the Language section of the documentation, most notable of which is the Overview.

I'm a Ruby programmer looking for quickstart type docs?

See the rb-nutshell guide.


Is there a CPAN (repository of third party library modules) for Perl 6?

Yes, it's the same CPAN as for Perl 5! The only difference is when using PAUSE to upload the module, you'd select Perl 6 as the target directory and the uploaded modules show up on modules.perl6.org instead of MetaCPAN. The App::Mi6 tool can simplify the uploading process. Latest versions of zef module installer automatically check for latest versions of a module on CPAN as well as our GitHub-based ecosystem.

Is there a perldoc (command line documentation viewer) for Perl 6?

Yes, it's called p6doc and is present in the ecosystem under that name. It comes bundled in with Rakudo Star but needs to be manually installed with zef if you are using a Rakudo monthly release.

Can I use Perl 5 modules from Perl 6?

Yes, with Inline::Perl5, which works well with most Perl 5 modules. It can even run Perl 5 Catalyst and DBI.

Can I use C and C++ from Perl 6?

Nativecall makes this particularly easy.

Nativecall can't find libfoo.so and I only have libfoo.so.1.2!

This is commonly seen on Debian-like systems. You need to install libfoo-dev package, to set a symlink for the missing file.

Where have all the traditional UNIX library functions gone?

It's fairly easy to use NativeCall to access them.

An ecosystem module POSIX is also available.

Does Rakudo have a core standard library?

Rakudo Star distribution does come with many useful modules.

Rakudo compiler-only release includes only a couple of the most basic modules.

Many more modules can be found in the ecosystem.

Is there something like B::Deparse/How can I get hold of the AST?

Use --target=optimize command line option to view the AST of your program, e.g., perl6 --target=optimize -e 'say "hi"'

The target optimize gives the AST after the static optimizer does its job, while target ast gives the AST before that step. To get the full list of available targets, run perl6 --stagestats -e ""

What is precompilation?

When you load a module for the first time, Rakudo compiles it into bytecode. Then, Rakudo both stores the compiled bytecode on disk and uses it, because that tends to be significantly faster.

Can I have circular dependencies between modules?

No, you can't have circular dependencies, and you should get a Circular module loading detected error if you have them between your modules.

Very likely you can accomplish what you are trying to do using roles. Instead of A.pm6 depending on B.pm6 and B.pm6 depending on A.pm6, you can have A-Role.pm6 and B-Role.pm6 and classes in A.pm6 and B.pm6 implementing these roles respectively. Then you can depend on A-Role.pm6 and B-Role.pm6 without the need for the circular dependency.

One of the reasons why circular dependencies do not work in Perl 6 is one pass parsing. We have to know what A means when we parse B, and we have to know what B means when we parse A, which is clearly an infinite loop.

Note that Perl 6 has no “1 file = 1 class” limitation, and circular dependencies within a single compilation unit (e.g. file) are possible through stubbing. Therefore another possible solution is to move classes into the same compilation unit.

Language features

How can I dump Perl 6 data structures (like Perl 5 Data::Dumper and similar)?

Typical options are to use the say routine that uses the gist method which gives the "gist" of the object being dumped. More detailed output can be obtained by calling the perl method that typically returns an object's representation in EVAL-able code.

If you're using the rakudo implementation, you can use the rakudo-specific dd routine for dumping, whose output is similar to perl, but with more information.


my $foo = %foo => 'bar' );
say $foo.perl;   # OUTPUT: «${:foo("bar")}␤» 
say $foo;        # OUTPUT: «{foo => bar}␤» 
# non-standard routine available in rakudo implementation: 
dd $foo;         # OUTPUT: «Hash $foo = ${:foo("bar")}␤» 

There are also several ecosystem modules that provide more control over how data structures are dumped, including support for colored output.

How can I get command line history in the Perl 6 prompt (REPL)?

Install Linenoise from the ecosystem.

An alternative for UNIX-like systems is to install rlwrap. This can be done on Debian-ish systems by running:

sudo apt-get install rlwrap

Why is the Rakudo compiler so apologetic?

If SORRY! is present in the output, the error is a compile time error. Otherwise, it's a runtime error.


sub fooInt $aInt $b ) {...}
foo(1)     # ===SORRY!=== Error while compiling ... 
say 1/0;   # Attempt to divide 1 by zero using div 

What is (Any)?

Any is a top level class most objects inherit from. The Any type object is the default value on variables and parameters without an explicit type constraint, which means you'll likely see (Any) printed when you output a gist of a variable without any value by using, for instance, the say routine:

my $foo;
say $foo# OUTPUT: «(Any)␤» 
my Int $baz;
say $baz# OUTPUT: «(Int)␤» 
my $bar = 70;
say $bar# OUTPUT: «70␤» 

To test whether a variable has any defined values, see DEFINITE and defined routines. Several other constructs exist that test for definiteness, such as with, orwith, and without statements, //, andthen, notandthen, and orelse operators, as well as type constraint smileys.

What is so?

so is a loose precedence operator that coerces to Bool.

It has the same semantics as the ? prefix operator, just like and is the low-precedence version of &&.


say so 1|== 2;    # OUTPUT: «True␤» 

In this example, the result of the comparison (which is a Junction), is converted to Bool before being printed.

What are those :D and :U things in signatures?

In Perl 6, classes and other types are objects and pass type checks of their own type.

For example, if you declare a variable

my Int $x = 42;

then not only can you assign integers (that is, instances of class Int) to it, but the Int type object itself:

$x = Int

If you want to exclude type objects, you can append the :D type smiley, which stands for "definite":

my Int:D $x = 42;
$x = Int;
# dies with: 
# Type check failed in assignment to $x; 
# expected Int:D but got Int 

Likewise, :U constrains to undefined values, that is, type objects.

To explicitly allow either type objects or instances, you can use :_.

What is the --> thing in the signature?

--> is a return constraint, either a type or a definite value.

Example of a type constraint:

sub divide-to-intInt $aInt $b --> Int ) {
        return ($a / $b).narrow;
# Type check failed for return value; expected Int but got Rat 

Example of a definite return value:

sub discard-random-number--> 42 ) { rand }
say discard-random-number;
# OUTPUT: «42␤» 

In this case, the final value is thrown away because the return value is already specified in the signature.

How can I extract the values from a Junction?

If you want to extract the values (eigenstates) from a Junction, you are probably doing something wrong and should be using a Set instead.

Junctions are meant as matchers, not for doing algebra with them.

If you want to do it anyway, you can abuse autothreading for that:

sub eigenstates(Mu $j{
    my @states;
    -> Any $s { @states.push: $s }.($j);
say eigenstates(1|2|3).join('');
# prints 1, 2, 3 or a permutation thereof 

If Str is immutable, how does s/// work? If Int is immutable, how does $i++ work?

In Perl 6, values of many basic types are immutable, but the variables holding them are not. The s/// operator works on a variable, into which it puts a newly created string object. Likewise, $i++ works on the $i variable, not just on the value in it.

Knowing this, you would not try to change a literal string (e.g. like 'hello' ~~ s/h/H/;), but you might accidentally do something equivalent using map as follows.

my @foo = <hello world>.map: { s/h/H/ };
# dies with 
# Cannot modify an immutable Str (hello) 
my @bar = <hello world>».subst-mutate: 'h''H';
# dies with 
# Cannot resolve caller subst-mutate(Str: Str, Str); 
# the following candidates match the type but require 
# mutable arguments: ... 

Instead of modifying the original value in place, use a routine or operator that returns a new value:

my @foo = <hello world>.map: { S/h/H/ };  # ['Hello','world'] 
my @bar = <hello world>».subst: 'h''H'# ['Hello','world'] 

See the documentation on containers for more information.

What's up with array references and automatic dereferencing? Do I need the @ sigil?

In Perl 6, nearly everything is a reference, so talking about taking references doesn't make much sense. Scalar variables can also contain arrays directly:

my @a = 123;
say @a;                 # OUTPUT: «[1 2 3]␤» 
say @a.^name;           # OUTPUT: «Array␤» 
my $scalar = @a;
say $scalar;            # OUTPUT: «[1 2 3]␤» 
say $scalar.^name;      # OUTPUT: «Array␤» 

The big difference is that arrays inside a scalar act as one value in list context, whereas arrays will be happily iterated over.

my @a = 123;
my $s = @a;
for @a { ... }          # loop body executed 3 times 
for $s { ... }          # loop body executed only once 
my @flat = flat @a@a;
say @flat.elems;            # OUTPUT: «6␤» 
my @nested = flat $s$s;
say @nested.elems;          # OUTPUT: «2␤» 

You can force list context with @( ... ) or by calling the .list method on an expression, and item context with $( ... ) or by calling the .item method on an expression.

See the Perl 6: Sigils, Variables, and Containers article to learn more.

Why sigils? Couldn't you do without them?

There are several reasons:

"Type Str does not support associative indexing."

You likely tried to mix string interpolation and key characters, like HTML tags:

my $foo = "abc";
say "$foo<html-tag>";

Perl 6 thinks $foo to be a Hash and <html-tag> to be a string literal hash key. Use a closure to help it to understand you.

my $foo = "abc";
say "{$foo}<html-tag>";

Does Perl 6 have coroutines? What about yield?

Perl 6 has no yield statement like Python does, but it does offer similar functionality through lazy lists. There are two popular ways to write routines that return lazy lists:

# first method, gather/take 
my @values = gather while have_data() {
    # do some computations 
    take some_data();
    # do more computations 
# second method, use .map or similar method 
# on a lazy list 
my @squares = (1..*).map(-> \x { x² });

Why can't I initialize private attributes from the new method, and how can I fix this?

The say statement in the following code sample

class A {
    has $!x;
    method show-x {
        return $!x;
say A.new(x => 5).show-x;

does not print 5. Private attributes are private, which means invisible to the outside world. If the default constructor could initialize them, they would leak into the public API. Thus, in this particular code sample the attribute $!x isn't initialized during object construction by the default constructor.

If you still want to initialize private attributes with the default constructor, you can add a submethod BUILD to achieve such task:

class B {
    has $!x;
    submethod BUILD(:$!x{ }
    method show-x {
        return $!x;
say B.new(x => 5).show-x;

BUILD is called by the default constructor (indirectly, see Object Construction for more details) with all the named arguments that the user passes to the constructor. :$!x is a named parameter with name x, and when called with a named argument of name x, its value is bound to the attribute $!x.

However, you shouldn't do that. If the attribute is declared as private, then it shouldn't be exposed to the environment outside the class (e.g., during object construction). On the other hand, if the attribute is public, there is no downside to declaring it that way with $.x since the external view is read-only by default, and you can still access it internally with $!x.

How and why do say, put and print differ?

The most obvious difference is that say and put append a newline at the end of the output, and print does not.

But there's another difference: print and put convert its arguments to a string by calling the Str method on each item passed to them while say uses the gist method. The gist method, which you can also create for your own classes, is intended to create a Str for human interpretation. So it is free to leave out information about the object deemed unimportant to understanding the essence of the object.

Or phrased differently, $obj.Str gives a string representation, $obj.gist provides a short summary of that object suitable for fast recognition by a human, and $obj.perl gives a Perlish representation from which the object could be re-created.

For example, when the Str method is invoked on a type object, also known as an "undefined value", the type is stringified to an empty string and a warning is thrown. On the other hand, the gist method returns the name of the type between parentheses (to indicate there's nothing in that value except the type).

my Date $x;     # $x now contains the Date type object 
print $x;       # empty string plus warning 
say $x;         # OUTPUT: «(Date)␤» 

If you'd like to show a debugging version of an object, it is probably better to use the rakudo-specific dd routine. It essentially does a $obj.perl and shows that on STDERR rather than STDOUT, so it won't interfere with any "normal" output of your program.

In short, say is optimized for casual human interpretation, dd is optimized for casual debugging output and print and put are more generally suitable for producing output.

put is thus a hybrid of print and say; like print, it calls the Str method on the object. And like say, it adds a newline at the end of the output.

What's the difference between token and rule ?

regex, token and rule introduce regexes, but with slightly different semantics.

token implies the :ratchet or :r modifier, which prevents the rule from backtracking.

rule implies both the :ratchet and :sigspace (short :s) modifier, which means a rule doesn't backtrace, and it treats whitespace in the text of the regex as <.ws> calls (i.e., matches whitespace, which is optional except between two word characters). Whitespace at the start of the regex and at the start of each branch of an alternation is ignored.

regex declares a plain regex without any implied modifiers.

What's the difference between die and fail?

die throws an exception.

fail returns a Failure object. (If the caller has declared use fatal; in the calling lexical scope, fail throws an exception instead of returning it.)

A Failure is an "unthrown" or "lazy" exception. It's an object that contains the exception, and throws the exception if you try to use the Failure as an ordinary object or ignore it in sink context.

A Failure returns False from a defined check, and you can extract the exception with the exception method.

What's the difference between Pointer and OpaquePointer?

OpaquePointer is deprecated and has been replaced with Pointer.

You can have colonpairs in identifiers. What's the justification?

Identifiers can include colon pairs, which become part of their name. According to Larry Wall's answer to the issue, We already had the colon pair mechanism available, so it was a no-brainer to use that to extend any name that needs to be able to quote uniquefying but non-standard characters (or other information with a unique stringification to such characters).

How do most people enter unicode characters?

It depends on the operating system, windowing environment and/or editors. This page on entering Unicode characters specifies how it is done in the most popular operating systems and editors.

Perl 6 implementation

What Perl 6 implementations are available?

Currently the best developed is Rakudo (using multiple Virtual Machine backends). Historic implementations include Niecza (.NET) and Pugs (Haskell). Others are listed at Perl 6 Compilers

What language is Rakudo written in?

A short answer is that Rakudo is written almost entirely in Perl 6. A more detailed answer is that Rakudo is written in a mixture of Perl 6 and NQP ("Not Quite Perl"). NQP is a lightweight Perl 6-like environment for virtual machines; it's designed to be a high-level way to create compilers and libraries for virtual machines (such as MoarVM and JVM) using Perl 6 syntax.

What language is NQP written in?

NQP is a mixture of (1) NQP code, (2) whatever language the underlying virtual machine is using, (3) some third-party C and Java libraries, and (4) some bootstrapping files created by earlier runs of the build process.

Is Perl 6 Lisp?

(not (not Nil))

Can I compile my script to a standalone executable?

Tools like App::InstallerMaker::WiX allow you to create an installer that will package the compiler and your script. However, the currently available compilers do not support creating a standalone executable yet.

If you wish to help out, the Rakudo compiler on MoarVM backend has https://github.com/MoarVM/MoarVM/issues/875 Issue opened as a place to discuss this problem.

Perl 6 distribution

When will the next version of Rakudo Star be released?

A Rakudo Star release is typically produced quarterly, with release announcements posted on rakudo.org.

Metaquestions and advocacy

Why is Perl 6 called Perl?

… As opposed to some other name that didn't imply all the things that the higher number might indicate on other languages.

The short answer is that it was Larry's choice under Rule 1.

The community considers Perl 5 and Perl 6 sister languages - they have a lot in common, address many of the same problem spaces, but Perl 6 is not intended to replace Perl 5. In fact, both languages interoperate with each other.

When will Perl 6 be ready? Is it ready now?

Readiness of programming languages and their compilers is not a binary decision. As the language and the implementations evolve, they grow steadily more usable. Depending on your needs, Perl 6 and its compilers may or may not be ready for you.

That said, version 6.c (Christmas 2015) is the first official release of Perl 6 as a language, along with a validation suite and a compiler that passes it.

Why should I learn Perl 6? What's so great about it?

Perl 6 unifies many great ideas that aren't usually found in other programming languages. While several other languages offer some of these features, none of them offer all of them.

Please see the feature comparison matrix for an overview of implemented features.

Is Perl 6 fast enough for me?

That depends on what you are doing. Rakudo has been developed with the philosophy of "make it work right then make it work fast." It's fast for some things already but needs work for others. Since Perl 6 provides lots of clues to the JIT that other dynamic languages don't, we think we'll have a lot of headroom for performance improvements.

The following crude benchmarks, with all the usual caveats about such things, show that Perl 6 can be faster than Perl 5 for similar tasks if the big weaponry is included, that is, if Perl 6 features are used to its full extent; at the same time, Perl 5 can be faster if only the bare bones are included. Similar situation can be observed when comparing Perl 6 to other languages.

Try it on your system. You may be pleasantly surprised!


# Perl 6 version 
use v6.c;
class Foo { has $.i is rw };
for 1..1_000_000 -> $i {
    my $obj = Foo.new;
    $obj.i = $i;
# Perl 5 version 
package Foo;
use Moose;
has => (is => 'rw');
for my $i (1..1_000_000{
    my $obj = Foo->new;
# Another Perl 5 version that offers bare-bones set of features 
# compared to Moose/Perl 6's version but those are not needed in this 
# specific, simple program anyway. 
package Foo;
use Mojo::Base -base;
has 'i';
for my $i (1..1_000_000{
    my $obj = Foo->new;

You might want to use this program for comparing performance, too. It works under both languages, as long as perl -Mbigint is used for invocation for Perl 5.

my ($prev$current= (10);
for (0..100_000{
    ($prev$current= ($current$prev + $current);
print $current;