Updated: October 6th, 2009

I'm sure most Perl coders have to face this annoying problem at one point or another: how do you consistently get the return value out of a system call, be at executed via backticks or system()? Backticks return the output of the program with no error code in sight, while system() returns the error code but prints the output instead of putting it into a variable.

The best solution I could find to this problem to date was posted at http://www.perlmonks.org/?node_id=19119 and involved opening a piped filehandle. It worked quite well but always felt like a hack (which it was). Having used the new Perl 5.10 for a few months, I was shocked today to find this new variable that …