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

Perl 6 set to be reincarnated as Raku, as favored by Larry Wall

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 patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.

Wall thus has ended a debate that has occupied the Perl developer community for the past few months and has been an issue for more than a decade. Back in August, Dutch software developer Elizabeth Mattijsen opened an issue in GitHub's Perl 6 repository seeking to rename Perl 6 because it's "confusing and irritating."

The problem – apart from Perl's dwindling popularity – simply is that Perl 5 and Perl 6 are separate, but related, programming languages. And when developers talk about Perl, they usually mean Perl 5. To give Perl 6 a chance to thrive on its own, the Perl community mostly agreed that a new name would be helpful.

Perl code image

Clutching at its Perl 6, developer community ponders language name with less baggage


Mattijsen initially proposed "Camilia," the name of Perl 6's butterfly mascot. Other suggestions included "Wall," in honor of Larry Wall, ofun, hiro, juro, kiln, mayu, pumpking, rafu, rapt, and raptor, among many others.

Ultimately, Raku, a reference to Perl 6's Rakudo compiler, won out. Perl 6 will become Raku, assuming the four people who haven't yet approved the pull request give their okay, and Perl 5 will become simply Perl.

Announcing the change in a post to the Hacker News forum, Perl programmer and book author Curtis "Ovid" Poe said, "This has been a huge deal for the Perl community."

"If I had my choice, I'd program in Raku because it's a lovely language addressing many pain points (including being one of the few dynamic languages with a working concurrency model). But it's not adopted widely enough yet for that to happen. Time will tell."

The arguably awful butterfly character Camelia will remain the Raku mascot. ®

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