Coming from the Perl 5 world, or from some other background, you may think of the programming language and its implementation as the one thing, or at least things very strongly tied to each other. Perl 6 is different. The “official” part is the specification (the Synopses) and the tests suite. Perl 6 encourages multiple implementations. Any implementation passing the official test suite and fulfiling the Synopses may call itself “a Perl 6 implementation”. While there is still no such implementation, there is alredy a few compilers in the ecosystem.
Rakudo is targetting the Parrot virtual machine, and it’s the most complete implementation so far. Niecza is targetting .NET and is aiming to study performance issues. There is also Yapsi, whose “author has claimed that it’s official for over half a year now, and not once been contradicted” :) We will be using Rakudo for our examples as it is the most complete implementation around and has the largest ecosystem built around it.
Like with Perl 6, there is no “one Rakudo to rule them all”. The Rakudo development team has decided to keep the compiler separate from the distribution. That means the Rakudo release is not a ready-to-use Perl 6 tarball, with modules, documentation and a virtual machine. That’s what Rakudo Star is. First released about half a year ago, Rakudo Star contains the toolbox with everything needed for Perl 6 hacking: a release of Parrot virtual machine, the Perl 6 Book, a bunch of modules and the Rakudo itself.
The Rakudo Star tarballs are located at https://github.com/rakudo/star/downloads. Go get one suitable for your system and become ready for Christmas… again!