You can clone with
HTTPS or Subversion.
I ran into this problem while running without a network connection, I'd just ran bootstrap.pl (which worked) and tried to install a local module with no deps (which didn't). It looks like it unconditionally wants to download the json modules list if it doesn't have a local copy yet.
What is the desired behavior if no module list JSON has been downloaded yet?
I think JSON could be lazily fetched, so only when a module is actually requested with get-project() or something; then it shouldn't trigger on local module installs.
Same problem with 'panda help', as described in #64 (closing it as duplicate).