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I am currently using RHEL 5.8 and SunOS 5.10 at work and Fedora 16 at home. Is there any way to find out the date when any or all of those OS instances were installed on a host?

The reason I want it is because I need to give some c**p to some RHEL admins cause they have Perl 5.8.8 installed, which is like 10 years old, yet I think the host is less than a year old -- there is no reason they couldn't have installed a fresher version (e.g. 5.8.8 doesn't come with XML::Parser, among other) except maybe laziness to update and/or the red tape.

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The version of Perl in RHEL6 is obsolete, but at least it's enterprisey. There's absolutely no excuse for using RHEL5 for any new project. – Michael Hampton Dec 15 '12 at 1:06
why is this the case? i am confused. it is just as easy to include the latest stable version as it is to pick one from the archives... – amphibient Dec 15 '12 at 1:58
No, it isn't. This is the perl shipped with RHEL 5, and that is the one they will ship until EOL. – vonbrand Jan 24 '13 at 23:35
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The basic question is slightly hard to answer, as files could have been touched at various points.

One file that doesn't get touched very often, and is created when the machine is first booted up, is the ssh private key file for the server. Look at /etc/ssh/ssh_host_dsa_key. Unless you're re-keying the ssh server, that file should be the installation date of the machine. (This is excluding special circumstances like this being a VM image, etc.)

That said, perl 5.8.8 is what is current on RHEL 5. Yes, it's old, but that's how Red Hat works, in terms of software version stability. Bug fixes will have been backported to the 5.8.8 package, though, so you're safe in that regard. The current specific perl 5.8.8 package is perl-5.8.8-38.el5_8 which was released on 29 October 2012. rpm -qi --changelog perl |head -50 will give you the top of the changelog.

Also, the XML::Parser is obtained as a separate package. Look for perl-XML-Parser. This is probably in EPEL or DAG.

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thanks. what i really need is XML::Simple -- i submitted a request to sys admins to install it. in the meantime, do you know of an alternative for easy XML parsing in Perl that would be included in the standard setup of 5.8.8.? – amphibient Dec 14 '12 at 19:48
There's a package available in the DAG repo named perl-XML-Simple: rpmfind.net//linux/RPM/dag/redhat/el5/i386/extras/… – cjc Dec 14 '12 at 20:02
Hmm. perl-XML-Simple provides XML::Simple, so use XML::Simple; should work. It does on my box. If you can't install the package system-wide, you can get the tarball from CPAN and build it in some subdirectory of your home, and then tell Perl to look for it in there. Something like perl Makefile.PL PREFIX=/home/directory/perllib ; make ; make install and then use XML::Simple /home/directory/perllib; to specify the location. – cjc Dec 14 '12 at 20:13
Yup, that works, too. – cjc Dec 14 '12 at 20:20
You might look at Perl's [local::lib]metacpan.org/module/local::lib) module which can be installed in your home directory to bootstrap the installation of other modules without infringing on the Perl installed with the OS. – JRFerguson Dec 14 '12 at 21:04

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