Perl is a simple, yet powerful, scripting language that can be very useful for automating repetitive tasks, processing text and acting as a glue between other programs (e.g. as a job submission script). Perl is a well-established language, with the current version (version 5) released in 1994. Version 5 is still the standard version of the language, and it is installed by default on nearly all modern UNIX systems. Perl is also available for OS X and Windows.
Perl was first released in 1987. You can read about the history of Perl at its Wikipedia page or by going to one of the many Perl websites. The best books to learn about Perl are Programming Perl (good for the absolute beginner - I used it to learn Perl!) and Learning Perl (good for someone who can already program in another language).
This is a short course that will provide you with a quick taste of Perl. Please work through this course at your own pace. Perl is best learned by using it, so please copy out and play with the examples provided, and also have a go at the exercises.
This course is a mirror of the Python course, with exactly the same pages, examples and exercises. If you want to compare Python with Perl, then please click the Compare with Python links.