Because Maemo is based on Debian, and because perl is such a big part of the debian OS, Maemo contains a full-blown Perl platform. This page aims to document and describe this environment so developers can take advantage of it when programming on the Maemo platform.


The current version of perl shipped with the N900 is 5.8.3.

One caveat of perl development on the N900 is that there is a fuller Perl distribution in the SDK than on the device. This means not just that there are fewer modules on the device, it means that rather fundamental Perl modules are missing form the normal Debian version of Perl on the device. This is done to save space; the device itself is embedded linux, the root files system is rather small, i.e. 228 MB.

You will find it difficult to build Perl modules on the device if you do not add the necessary Perl tools, namely perl and perl-modules. Without these key tools, many of the modules used to build Perl modules won't exist on the device and you won't be able to add software written in Perl. Here is an example of what is shipped with both the SDK and device environments;

Installed Perl packages
In the SDK On device
liblocale-gettext-perl 1.01-17osso2

libtimedate-perl 1.1600-4osso
perl 5.8.3-3osso10
perl-base 5.8.3-3osso10
perl-modules 5.8.3-3osso10

liblocale-gettext-perl 1.01-17osso2

perl-base 5.8.3-3osso10

The SDK repositories are here:

deb fremantle/sdk free non-free
deb fremantle/tools free non-free

If you wish to add Perl modules what I recommend is to bring in the necessary tools, namely the perl package and the perl-modules package. You can do that by adding the repositories that supply modules to the SDK. Of course you can build Perl yourself, but it is already built for the device's architecture and it is in a known good state, so it is much easier to just take the already built Perl binaries for the N900. (There are later versions of Perl built and packaged for the device, I'll eventually provide links to those, until then, you'll have to rely on Google.)

Once you have added the SDK repositories to your /etc/apt/sources.list, simply run:

apt-get update
apt-get install perl perl-modules

Now you should be ready to start bringing other modules in.

Git repo at Gitorious

I have packaged one module so far, I hope to bring in many more perl modules. If you package something for the device, why not contribute your module to the maemo repos and/or ask me to pull it into the gitorious repo that I have set up?

dh-make-perl at

Just ported dh-make-perl for Maemo fremantle. The packages ported are available at [1]. It includes among

Some notes for people who want to port perl modules for ARM. I found out that I had to change the following (change your proxy settings as appropiate):

# Environment vars
unset PERL5LIB
export PATH=/usr/bin/dh7:/usr/bin:$PATH
export DISPLAY=:2
export http_proxy=
export https_proxy=
export ftp_proxy=
echo " localhost" > /etc/hosts

Nasty script to substitute /usr/bin/man which breaks dh_installdocs

echo "$# $1 $2 $n"
while [ $n -ne 1 ]; do
 echo "$# $1 $2 $n"
echo $p
/usr/lib/man-db/manconv -f UTF-8:ISO-8859-1 -t UTF-8//IGNORE  $p

Some packages ported include ssleay and some others which are needed prerrequisites for dh-make-perl.

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