ybiC has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

I'm finally stepping beyond the Perl standard distribution into the promised land of CPAN.   Or trying to, anyway - problems with make stop me dead in my tracks.

Found perl -MCPAN -e shell; syntax at Aighearach's good post My Favorite Module:CPAN, and got through FirstTime questions with only minor confusion.   But when I try to install any module or even to upgrade CPAN, the following errors result (after LWP loads and fetches):

Can't exec "/usr/bin/make":No such file or directory at -e line NNNN /usr/bin/make -- NOT OK Running make test Oops, make had returned bad status.
Jump back to "Favorite Module CPAN" post, which suggests the following action: "If make test fails, you can probably go to $HOME/.cpan/build and make install".   A few different variations on that all gen this error: *** No rule to make target `install'. Stop.  

PM search for CPAN turns up these nodes and more, but no answers.
What's MakeMaker?

Can you tell I'm frazzled - even left the Monastery to search and struck out.   <grin>

System I'm working on is
* Perl 5.00404
* Debian 2.1
* not behind firewall or proxy.
* /usr/bin/make v3.77

I humbly request illumination and edification from Wiser Monks Than I (TM)