Source: Running Linux, 5th Edition by Matthias Kalle Dalheimer and Matt Welsh (2006)


Perl may well be the best thing to happen to the Unix programming environment in years; it is worth the price of admission to Linux alone.

I don't think I fully understand what this line is saying.

  • I'm not sure the authors understood what the line is saying either. But it means that "Perl, which you can get with Linux, is alone worth the price you paid for Linux". In other words, if all you got for your money was Perl, it would still be worth it, a good deal. The "price of admission" is what you pay to enter, for example, at a movie theater. The tickets used to say "Admit One".
    – TimR
    Feb 24, 2017 at 14:32

2 Answers 2


I agree with fixer1234 in their answer on the general idea of "worth the price of admission (to Linux)".

Then again, the assumption the authors seem to make sounds a bit strange to me. If I remember correctly, it was quite possible, and viable, to run Perl on other operating systems as well (I guess the authors had Windows in mind.) So, saying that Perl makes it worth it to switch over from, say, Windows to Linux is somewhat strange.

Being curious, I went to Safari Books Online to see if the authors have more to say about their implication. And they have, as a footnote. Here is what I can see in my version of the book (still is the 5th ed., but it's reflowed as HTML, so it may be a little different from your print book edition):

Perl may well be the best thing to happen to the Unix programming environment in years; it is worth the price of admission to Linux alone.[*]

And here is the footnote:

[*]Truth be told, Perl also exists now on other systems, such as Windows. Many Windows system administrators claim it to be their preferred language. But it is not even remotely as well known and ubiquitous there as it is on Linux.

So, the basic meaning of the sentence in question, according to the authors in their footnote, is that Perl alone makes it worth it to switch from other operating systems to Linux.

My side note: I just recalled that one thing that could make the difference between Perl on Linux and on, say, Windows is when you install Linux, Perl will automatically be installed. On the other hand, Perl doesn't automatically come with Windows. If you want to run Perl on Windows, you have to install it yourself, and there are a few alternatives of Perl on Windows which may or may not cause compatibility problems.


It's borrowing an expression that means the benefits are worth the cost.

"It's worth the price of admission" is something people would say in a situation where they pay a high price for admission, say to an entertainment or educational event, but the event is so good they feel they got their money's worth.

It's been applied to many other situations where there is some high entry cost (not necessarily money), but the value received is deemed to have more than justified it.

  • Well, you didn't explain in your post what I asked for, did you? Feb 24, 2017 at 10:30
  • @CookieMonster, I can explain the expression, but I'm not familiar enough with Perl to know why the author would use that context. The book was published in 2006; long after Perl became available on platforms other than Unix/Linux. Perl is a stand-along program, there's no direct association with Linux. Perl and Linux are free, so the "price of admission" doesn't refer to money; maybe the time investment to become proficient. My wild guess is that it relates to Perl making the Unix/Linux programming environment more powerful, justifying the time investment to move to that environment.
    – fixer1234
    Feb 24, 2017 at 10:50

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