Let's look at some module that are installed with perl by default, and let's look a bit behind the scenes of the modules.

You already know that when perl encounters a use statement, it will look for a file with the same name, but with .pm extension in the directories listed in the @INC array.

So if we write use Cwd;, perl will look for a file called Cwd.pm in the directories listed in @INC.

What is in @INC you can check using perl -V as explained in this episode.


If you don't have the perldoc command installed then on Linux system you usually need to install the package called perl-doc in order to have the perldoc command.

If you have it then you can type perldoc Cwd (or the name of any other module) and it will show the documentation of the module. (Use the space-bar to go forward a page and use the q key to quit the reader.)

Running perldoc -l Cwd will print out the location of the file containing the module: /usr/lib/perl5/Cwd.pm.

This can be a useful aid to make sure the correct version of the module is loaded.

perldoc -m Cwd will show the source code of the file implementing the module.

As we flip though the source code of Cwd we can see it uses strict and we can also see the following snippet:

@EXPORT = qw(cwd getcwd fastcwd fastgetcwd);
push @EXPORT, qw(getdcwd) if $^O eq 'MSWin32';
@EXPORT_OK = qw(chdir abs_path fast_abs_path realpath fast_realpath);

We can see how it inserts values to the @EXPORT ok, but the next line is interesting. It pushes another entry onto the @EXPORT array if the operating system is MS Windows.

From this you can see that these variables can be quite dynamic and can be filled based on various conditions.

There is also the @EXPORT_OK array with additional functions that can be imported optionally. If they are needed, but they won't be imported by default.

So now you also know how to look at the source code of a module on your system. Alternatively you can browse to the module on MetaCPAN, for example to the Cwd module and click on the "Source" link on the left hand side. That will show the source code of the most recent version of the module.