I tried to get remove Perl from my Ubuntu machine, but found that automake not only depends on Perl but itself is a Perl program. I read somewhere this was not always the case.

Today I looked in the archives, but even version 1.0 already is in Perl. Did I misread, or was automake always in Perl?

Are there any drop-in replacements that does not depend on Perl?

  • 8
    I tried to get rid of Perl on my Ubuntu machine -- that's not going to happen, sorry. It's been there since the beginning on linux and you'll find it's essential to more than just this. Python has since crept into being a necessity on some systems too. You can get it down to just shell scripts, but you'll have to build it up yourself; no distro does that AFAIK. Many people (quite sanely) simply prefer perl or python when the shell isn't required. That's progress. And many people prefer perl to python or python to perl (that's subjective reality).
    – goldilocks
    Dec 9, 2013 at 12:55
  • It's difficult to comment on that without starting a flame war.
    – Emmanuel
    Dec 9, 2013 at 13:17
  • @Emmanuel Perl vs. python is a subjective flame war realm because they are categorically identical. But shell programming is not, and there's nothing controversial in pointing out there's more and less appropriate tools for particular tasks. WRT automake, I guess it could be done in C or C++, but why bother? It could also be done using shell scripting, or lisp, etc. but: this is a general purpose task, perl is a general purpose language. More particularly it's a text parsing task, and that's something perl is very appropriate for. That's not controversial. I'm just pointing this out.
    – goldilocks
    Dec 9, 2013 at 15:16
  • On a fresh Ubuntu 12.04 installation only a few packages are dependent on perl, but these include ubuntu-desktop, update-inetd as well as scanning and printing packages. You can remove perl (dpkg --ignore-depends), and run the desktop without aperent problems, but how not having update-inetd affects updating and installing packages on the long run, I am not sure. automake is not part of the basic 12.04 install.
    – Anthon
    Dec 9, 2013 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


Automake was originally a shell script and switched in version 0.21 (see the automake history page) in November 1995.

(I am not aware of a drop-in replacement)

  • 7
    And whatever user54129 might think about Perl, shell is probably not a better language.
    – choroba
    Dec 9, 2013 at 11:21

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