back to article We, Wall, we, Wall, Raku: Perl creator blesses new name for version 6 of text-wrangling lingo

Perl 6 should soon be known as Raku, now that Perl creator Larry Wall has given his blessing to the name change. On Friday, Wall approved a GitHub pull request to adopt the new moniker, citing a Biblical parable. He wrote, "I am in favor of this change, because it reflects an ancient wisdom," before reciting: No one sews a …

  1. elDog

    The language that makes you swear - $->$_@#

    etc. ad infinitum.

    I made quite a bit of dosh using 5.x and then waited decades for the 6.-1 releases. In the mean time, I learned to love assembler, jovial, pascal, java, scala, even python. We think that train left the station, with no passengers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The language that makes you swear - $->$_@#

      Sigh, here come the haters of Perl. Isn't it nice we have so many choices to fit our particular personalities? But we don't like what we don't like, and we'll let everyone know what we don't like.

      At one point, a study found that there were new computer languages at a rate of one per week, for the previous 30 years! Please try a few dozen, then reconcile how you could have liked what you used to like. The shame!

      Oh well, back to ECMAScript, which everyone also used to hate until circumstances made them change their minds. Ooo, maybe changing the name *is* the key?

      1. CRConrad

        Re: The language that makes you swear - $->$_@#

        Less than two years ago, an AC wrote:

        > Sigh, here come the haters of Perl.

        In response to a post saying: "I made quite a bit of dosh using 5.x and then waited decades for the 6.-1 releases."

        > Please try a few dozen [new computer languages]

        In response to a post saying: "In the mean time, I learned to love assembler, jovial, pascal, java, scala, even python."

        The above comment (and the AC who posted it) must be the most idiotic I've seen on the Reg.

  2. -tim

    It's about time

    The perl 6 issue has caused much confusion and is limiting future adoption of perl.

    Out of all the languages we use, perl 5 is the clear winner in dollars profit per line of code, lines of code needing changes per year and feature set per line of code. Some of the other languages have maintenance costs that are more than 4 times maintenance cost of the perl code base.

    Raku has some very interesting concepts and I recommend watching one of Damian Conway's talks about its advanced features.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: It's about time

      changing the name doesn't change *SHIT*

      [I avoid profanity most of the time - this time it's NECESSARY]

  3. jake Silver badge

    That wasn't all THAT hard, now was it Larry?

    What took you so bloody long?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: That wasn't all THAT hard, now was it Larry?

      he needed a POLITICALLY CORRECT name that would

      a) not cause SJW's to get him fired

      b) not cause SJW''s to swarm the message boards and forums over it

      c) not cause SJW's to boycott his new lingo


      'Raku' is an interesting name. It means "comfort" in Japanese, so you can't be pissing off any SJW's with that... or CAN you ???

      I'd rather call it 'Baka" - heh.

      In short I think the heads of projects are trying WAY too hard to appease a bunch of noisy wannabe's that have nothing better to do than to nit-pick names and whatnot. SJW's in other words.

      1. poohbear

        Re: That wasn't all THAT hard, now was it Larry?

        "Comfort women" ?......

      2. MacroRodent

        Re: That wasn't all THAT hard, now was it Larry?

        "Raku" is also a traditional Japanese ceramics technique.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That wasn't all THAT hard, now was it Larry?

          >"Raku" is also a traditional Japanese ceramics technique.

          In Reiki it's the symbol used to abolish negative karma and kidney stones - and translates roughly as fiery python.

        2. Flywheel

          Re: That wasn't all THAT hard, now was it Larry?

          It sounds too much like Roku... Just sayin'

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Re: That wasn't all THAT hard, now was it Larry?

        Of course, that will be it. Of course.

      4. jake Silver badge

        Re: That wasn't all THAT hard, now was it Larry?

        No, bob. Raku is from Rakudo, the name of an early perl6Raku compiler. Rakudo in turn is from the shortened form of rakuda-dou, which means "the way of the camel".

        (I'll give you time to digest that. Are we ready to move on yet? OK ... )

        Your version of raku is actually from "paradise", not "comfort". Note that Larry, the linguist and punster, is fully aware of this. But I'll raise a cup to you for the attempt. Raku-ware, of course, which as we all know is quite sophisticated in it's imperfection ...

        And of course, it sounds similar to roku (six, get it?), at least to Western ears ...

        My Father pointed out that it's also somewhat similar to raakku, which is the Finnish name for Margaritifera margaritifera, a freshwater pearl mussel ... but I'm fairly certain this is just a happy coincidence.

        My original point, hopefully not lost in your usual blathering bullshit, was that we all knew what the name was going to be over ten years ago, and it's about fucking time that Larry made it official. Now perhaps we can stop all the suits babbling about "upgrading to perl 6" and talking about the competition being "behind, because they are still stuck with perl 5" and the like ...

        Perl 5 is perl

        Perl 6 is Raku

        They are NOT the same language. Raku is NOT an "upgrade" to perl. Hopefully the pair of them will continue on their merry ways in peace and harmony. Unlike the users, of course, who will always find something to bellyache about.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: That wasn't all THAT hard, now was it Larry?

          well in Japanese [of which I am no expert, but I own a translation dictionary or two] there are MANY homonyms and MANY pun-related jokes... so the 'Perl 6' 'camel' 'Raku/roku' reference might be true...

  4. MacroRodent


    About time. When you make an incompatible new language version, you change the name. (Python should have done the same). I think the name change will make people (me included) take a fresh look at the new language.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Finally

      Python3 cashed in on the good reputation of Python2. Perl devs decided to try a Diebold/Premiere Election Solutions because of the copious scathing hyperbole about Perl5 all over the internet.

      1. Morten Bjoernsvik

        Re: Finally

        Moving from python2 to python3 is not that hard, if you can upgrade python2 to get all the backported python3 features it is mainly the utf-8 and byte issue left. We were lucky most of our modules had been upgraded as well.

        Going from perl5 to perl6 is a different ballgame, there are very few packages for perl6 compared to cpan, so You need to rewrite everything from scratch. Far more easier to move it all to a more widely used language where modules exists. recently it is requirements to do security scanning of code repos. pypi and maven is supported everywhere. I would not been able to get a perl6 program out in production.

        I follow the, solving problems using the core language is what perl6 is great at. I do not have time to write up all my legacy of modules and tools I need to meet my deadlines.

        1. tmtvl

          Re: Finally

          You can totally just use Inline::Perl5 and then do something like "use Data::Random:from<Perl5> <:all>;" though.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Finally

      The issue for Python 3 was not language changes (which are relatively small and can be fixed mechanically for the most part) but lack of decisiveness. They should have given a very definite end of life to version 2, e.g. feature freeze, several years of bug fixes, then it's gone. Time enough for users to run the 2to3 script, fix any warnings and for the modules to do the same and that's the end of it.

      Instead stuff got backported and other Python implementations implemented around 2.x not 3.x so there was no impetus to switch and no immediate threat of 2.x being EOL'd so the issue festered. Eventually it will be twelve(!) years before Python 2 is end of lifed. Think of the effort wasted supporting and developing two code bases.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I mourn Perl

    I've written a number of significantly-large programs in Perl; I've also earned my living for a number of years writing Python.

    Python, famously, thinks that

    there should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.

    In other words

    we, the language designers, are cleverer than you, the programmers, and we will give you one way do do things which you will use, because you simply are not smart enough to make that choice on your own, being lesser human beings than us.

    Well. Larry Wall thinks that

    true greatness is measured by how much freedom you give to others, not by how much you can coerce others to do what you want.

    And Perl embodies that, beautifully: if you're writing in Perl you get to make your own choices about how to express the ideas in your program: the language doesn't impose itself on you but lets you do the thinking, because it treats you as if you were smart.

    Sadly very many people turn out to have appalling taste if any taste at all, and if given their head will produce unreadable, unprincipled crap. And so Perl slowly dies, and Python lives on. The Python people were right: they may not be very good at language design, but they are better than almost everyone.

    Still, for people like me who think that a programming language should be a tool to let them express their ideas of what a programming language might be and what programs might look like in that language, then Perl, still, is a lovely choice. From what I can see Perl 6 / Raku will be an even better choice.

    For a while, Perl was the language a Lisp hacker like me could use to ship code that other people would accept. Lisp was not OK because, well, because Lisp was not OK, but Perl was OK, and you still got to do some of the linguistic abstraction that is what Lisp is all about. Unsurprisingly Larry Wall has a background in linguistics.

    Of course, in the way of things the good people end up sniping at each other while the bad people eat the world, unnoticed, in the background: my only claim to fame is that Larry Wall's famous quote about Lisp was in response to (an entirely unjustified) post by me, being very rude about Perl.

    I mourn Perl. Perhaps I will build Perl 6 / Raku and play with it.

    1. Glen 1


      "Perl slowly dies, and Python lives on. The Python people were right: they may not be very good at language design, but they are better than almost everyone."

      I have ranted (possibly somewhat unfairly), about Perl going the way of COBOL in these sort of threads previously. I am a sometime defender of Python - Mostly as a counterpoint to "If it doesn't compile to machine code, is it even a real language" type posts.

      I make the point that we are payed to solve a problem, not marvel at how smart we are, and point at the layers of abstraction involved in web apps that some here believe "...should just be written in C or C++ to begin with..."

      That said, I agree with you about how sometimes its the artistry that is satisfying. However that's our own personal gratification, not the client's. If you can find a client/patron to scratch that itch, then I congratulate you.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: obligitory

        So, I disagree with you, but not in a 'stand by while I fetch my suitcase nuke' sort of way (I've only got one, after all, it's needed for ... other people).

        First of all, you're right: clients don't pay people to think about languages.

        But at a deeper level that's the problem. The reason it's the problem is that

        all large software systems include the implementation of at least one programming language

        and hence

        software system design, beyond a certain point, is programming language design.

        Now we could argue about these two contentions, and in particular I might be willing to relax on the first 'all': perhaps just most large systems include a programming language (which will often be called a 'configuration syntax' or something like that). But certainly it is most.

        And this is one of the many reasons why software is so crap: we don't teach programmers to think like programming language designers, so when they start writing large systems the programming languages which get implemented as part of that effort are terrible. I recently spent three years working with a system whose configuration language consisted of at least three languages, two of which existed essentially within strings of the next language out. And of course these things cut across each other in the most horrible way, and of course people actually did that in practice, a lot, and of course that made configurations fragile and incomprehensible. Oh, and of course no-one had implemented a standard library for this thing, so people made new configurations by copying old ones resulting in thousands (seriously, thousands) of slightly-varying copies of things all broken in different ways. This thing took at least a couple of years to turn from what seemed like a good idea to the seething maintenance nightmare it was when I left.

        All of this because the people designing the system didn't realise first that they were going to implement a programming language, and then that they should probably learn something about programming language design so what they ended up with might suck a bit less.

        And horrors like this are common, not rare.

        So my contention, in summary, is that a very large part of the reason why the software systems we build suck so badly (and if you think they don't suck, well, you're wrong) is because people aren't taught to think about programming languages, and to think that system design is language design.

        And indeed that is, ultimately, because people won't pay for that, so in fact I agree with you about that.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: obligitory

        "Perl going the way of COBOL"

        I certainly hope so! I started making money with COBOL 50 years ago this year ... and I just signed a 5 year extension to a COBOL maintenance contract that'll keep me making money with COBOL through 2025 (with no actual end in sight, by the way). If perl goes the same way, I'll still be making money with perl through 2046!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's rarely a success. Windscale -> Sellafield, Arthur Andersen -> Accenture -> Monday.

    There are exceptions (Saxe-Coburg-Gotha -> Windsor worked fairly well), but on the whole there are simply so many languages floating around nowadays with nondescriptive names (JOVIAL, COBOL at least stood for something*) that confusion is bound to be created.

    *I once created a machine control kernel called BOVRIL - Benson's Own Version of a Realtime Interactive Language. That didn't catch on. It's just as well.

    1. Alister

      Re: Rebranding

      Windscale -> Sellafield, Arthur Andersen -> Accenture -> Monday.

      Windscale became Monday, who knew?


      1. CRConrad

        Re: Rebranding

        The comma is not an arrow.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Rebranding

      "Saxe-Coburg-Gotha -> Windsor worked fairly well"

      Really? I can't for the life of me remember a single one of 'em actually working.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rebranding

        You must have a poor memory.

        Prince William piloted an RAF rescue helicopter for several years. Prince Harry served in Afghanistan as a helicopter pilot, on the front lines. Queen Elizabeth was a mechanic in world war 2, against her father's wishes. Prince Andrew played missile decoy in a Sea King during the Falklands war.

        The royal family have traditionally held positions in the military, but they aren't ceremonial; they have to serve actual time. They've spent more time doing "real jobs" than any of the shower in Parliament, or in your state or federal legislatures too, I'd wager.

        1. Rich 11

          Re: Rebranding

          They've spent more time doing "real jobs" than any of the shower in Parliament

          Just to pick one name which has been in the news this year, Sarah Wollaston practised medicine for 34 years before entering Parliament. That's longer than the total number of years of non-ceremonial military service accumulated by the people you mention.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Rebranding

            Well then, I owe you a coke. Doesn't change the fact that they have, in fact, worked real jobs.

            1. Rich 11

              Re: Rebranding

              Ta. Just put a gram in the post for me.

      3. CRConrad

        The *rebranding* worked extremely well.

        The comment you replied to meant that the rebranding worked fairly well. Which it obviously did: It was done in order not to look "too German" in WW1. More than a century later, the family still holds the throne.

    3. skeptical i
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Rebranding

      I thought Monday was the brainchild of Price-Waterhouse-Cooper?

  8. DCFusor

    Still about the best duct-tape

    It's easy to complain about perl, to be sure, as sinecure-minded hacks can use the freedom to write code only they can understand. Job security for jerks.

    Or you can do as I do and write it such that what's going on is utterly obvious - the freedom swings both ways.

    When I started this game - ASM on a PDP-8, then on Z80 and X86, finally dragged into C, the C++ (which I now like, at least without the far-worse-than-perl new crap), it often made sense to roll your own. You knew what your standalone application needed and wanted to accomplish. A flat file with a couple special functions might beat a database - and computers were limited enough that such things would fit, where the "use big things off the shelf" model would require a special machine to even run. It was totally worth it to create your own special version of the obvious services, math libraries, display interfaces, you name it.

    This is no longer true.

    Why would you write a web server when there's Apache, or NGINX (which runs sweetly on a raspberrry pi!)?

    Without getting into the which is best war - ditto MySQL, PostGress and a number of others down to SQLite.

    Plotting? Gnuplot and a few others come to mind.

    Display interfaces - there are plenty of write-once, debug-everywhere interfaces to system libraries now for almost any language you like. Not completely opsys independent, but the GUI if an app has one, is simplified as a matter of style these days.

    As far as handling anything tricky - see CPAN - there's an app for that already, no need to write up something - and they are _well_ _documented_.

    No other language matches that for sheer number and variety.

    By extension, few are writing their own neural net libraries, other than as adapter for existing ones. And duct-tape code to feed in that "big data" from some database.

    Name your new killer app, and all the big difficult pieces exist already, and almost all are free.

    So what's needed is a duct-tape language that makes sticking all this existing functionality together in new ways with a bit of adapting.

    Um, perl was designed for just that, and is still at least in the running for the best at it. You don't have to write line noise, I never do.

    I have large realtime control, data acquisition, and analysis systems using perl to stick together some of the things listed above, they work flawlessly in my physics lab, run on all manner of machines with no changes.. and they were easy to write, and are easy to maintain - even though one machine might be mostly data aq with some control, another few might be video cameras sharing streams to the database via the opsys sharing utilities - some are even raspberry pies, some are PCs -

    Perl makes this all easy. What is an add-on in most languages - the ability to talk outside that runtime's box - is natural in perl. It's why it was created.

    I'm glad Larry approves the renaming of that new language. It's almost nothing like perl, just close enough to make you think you know something, but nope, you don't. Like perl, at inception, it's too slow for most of what perl5 is now plenty fast for. It does preserve the ability to write either obvious code, or stuff so weird no one can figure it out. Raku has things going on under the hood (deep magic) that can take till the heat death of the universe to run or eat all of the system ram in about 1-2 words of code. NIce for learning math theory (rationals, series, built in toys) - but for real work? Maybe someday. Meanwhile I'll use languages that get my jobs done.

    Damian Conway's demo that you can write a complete Turing machine that will run a sort in the C++ templating language without actually creating a single line of C++ code tells it all. Go look at some modern C++ and tell me it's not far more obfuscated than perl!

  9. karlkarl Silver badge

    I am glad they decided to truly go their own way. Nothing against Perl 6 but it would be a shame to muddy up the water with different ideas and breaking changes. I feel that this same problem has damaged Python a little with 2.x -> 3.x breakages.

    I also wish commercial companies like Microsoft were more sane and use different names for different languages. I.e Calling VB.NET when it is a completely different language to VB6 is basically just lying to their users ;)

  10. Gaius

    Perl is the stupid programmers idea of a clever programming language.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Bad troll.

      No cookie.

      1. Siberian Hamster

        Re: Bad troll.

        Can I have his cookie please?

  11. cdrcat

    I am hoping that they rename Perl 5 to Perl 7 to breath life into the old reliable (perhaps add a linter to justify the leap ;-p)

  12. JulieM

    Going the Way of COBOL

    You don't meet many poor COBOL programmers.

    If Perl ends up in that situation, where there's lots of legacy code that needs tweaking but all the young and trendy kids are using a different language, then my life writing Perl won't have been spent in vain.

    If I'm still alive by around 2033, I'll probably be raking it in.....

    1. a pressbutton

      You don't meet many poor COBOL programmers.

      Survivor bias imo.

      The bad ones became managers or consultants etc.

      1. CRConrad

        Re: You don't meet many poor COBOL programmers.

        Most of them probably dead by now.

  13. sum_of_squares

    C'mon, who uses Perl in 2019..

    >opens the register


  14. LenG

    Next release

    So, if there is ever a new Perl-5 compatible major release of Perl will it be Perl 6 (major confusion), Perl 7 (minor confusion over absense of Perl 6) or some other new and equally obscure name?

    Just askin'

    1. zemm

      Re: Next release

      There was speculation that Perl 5.32 could simply become Perl 32 and go from there -- like Java.

      Says the guy who still uses Perl 5.10.1 as bread and butter... There is a project to upgrade to 5.16 when CentOS 6.x becomes completely EOL and we'll have to be on CentOS 7; not sure what we'll do after that. Our code breaks spectacularly around 5.22!

  15. Richard IV
    Thumb Up

    Classical shoehorn

    I'm rather liking that you found a quote on a metamorphosis by "Ovid"

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Classical shoehorn

      Well, the story of Ovid that I was reading recently concerns two loved ones separated by a Wall and given ridiculous names, and due to mutual misunderstanding it ended badly for each... it's in "Midsummer Night's Dream" you know.

      But that wouldn't happen again, would it?? :-)

  16. gnarlymarley

    Amazing how (if designed right) something can work successfully for years. I started with Perl4 and the reality is people only need to upgrade for new features or to fix bugs. If something is not broke, it does not need to be changed.

  17. SoftwareIsHappiness

    Aside from the clear facts that Perl 5 community knows that porting the massive Perl 5 ecosystem to Perl 6 is an enormous undertaking-- perhaps impossible. What is needed a "framework"!!! Especially a comprehensive web stack that has the enthusiasm and adoption of say "Laravel". There are no flagship projects like Perl 5. Of course, re-branding Perl 6 is necessary because it complicates the relationship between versions. Bottom line Perl 6 is another language that has deep roots in Perl 5 but it's not going be popular unless the Perl 6 community shows the rest of the Internet how beautifully articulate Raku can be used to write web applications. Another suggestion, grammars could bridge the conceptual gap and compete with transpiliers in the JavaScript world. Typescript?

    Basically, Perl is like a muscle or sports car. If you don't take it out of the garage what good is it!

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