Diary of an unsuspecting developer

For the last semester of my studies I have been thinking about getting some part time job. My previous and current assignments as toilet-paper replacement technician and garbage scavenger were mostly ok or even good, but I felt the time came to try something different, more demanding and respected. But my brother returned me back to reality with a statement that even for him (body builder) it is amazingly difficult to work as a shelf stacker. Tough luck.

Some time later, my friend and schoolmate sent me an email that one company is looking for somebody that would help them with one of their ARM projects. The guy they are looking for should “know how to write, compile… and run a simple program under linux”. Nice. ARM is cool, I like Raspberry and N900 and I even wrote a program for it… once. But it is no Hello world. So, why not give it a try, right?

After a brief exchange of emails with the director himself I arrived at the workplace to take a look. The director is a nice guy, he started to tell me how he appreciates that I want to work there, what are the options if they like me… not bad. But a bit premature. After this promising introduction he showed me the engineer who runs the project I should start working on. So, that “simple program” I should be compiling is actually a custom Linux kernel. And they need a kernel specialist to fix some issues they are having and don’t want to pay 80€/hour for a hired programmer. Ouch.

My knees started to shake a bit so I sat down to take a look at that makeshift piece of hardware they want to run this thing on (and crashed it by some wrong command minutes later). Yeah. But they didn’t find out that I know close to nothing about this subject and the director was super nice to me, so I agreed to come back the second day.

On the next day I came to the lab and got a table and a laptop with Ubuntu to work on. My first assignment is to fix issues with make. After some time I actually managed to complete this, it was just some issue with 32bit binary on 64bit OS. Then some issues with patching came, but that was due to the mess they have in development files and Subversion.. so it was decided to start the project with new kernel and new developer (eg. me, now nicknamed “Guru”). At lunchtime, the boss even came to the lab and gave me his own lunch! Damn. But then the problem with installing development environment came. The installer wrote all green, everything cool, but nothing installed. After hours of checking libraries, permissions, forementioned scripts and everything I could think of, it was just incorrectly designed destination folder prompt. Great. But I got it fixed too!

So, after the fist day I managed to fix two minor issues, get a lunch and start recompiling the kernel! At least I think it was kernel.. should find it out later, definitely. And they still don’t know I have no idea about kernels. Wonder how long until they find out.. Hopefully not so soon, the lab is really cool. Wish me luck.

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