Close to the Metal
I want to be close to the metal.
Over the past two years and a few months, I’ve really gotten quite into embedded Linux and related systems. I got hired by a local company (my current employer) to be their embedded Linux guy and help make a product from the ground up. It’s been a lot of fun, I’ve learned a lot, and done tons of new things.
In the course of these past 2 years, I’ve grown fond of being close to the metal. I got my first patches into u-boot, developed a Linux SPI protocol driver for our product, gotten the TPS65217 power button working on the BeagleBone in Linux, and worked very closely with our hardware engineer to define and debug the system I’m developing for.
I’ve done other things, too (like starting to learn Ruby on Rails then dropping that for web services using FastCGI in C, there’s orders of magnitude difference in speed between those two), but I’ve not enjoyed the “other things” as much as I’ve enjoyed working on u-boot, specifying and bringing up hardware, starting to dig into writing Linux drivers, and being a part of the BeagleBoard.org community.
Sure, making products is great. But I’ve found I really enjoy simply doing the low level engineering part of the job, taking some chips and making them work together to allow for business goals to be achieved on top of them. The actual implementation of the business goals (web services, etc) isn’t as fun for me.
I’d love to have a job where I get to be close to the metal more. It’s possible that my current job can transform into that, I’m hoping I can make that happen. I’m not as concerned about what kind of close to the metal work I get to do, but if it was open source, that’d be a big plus.
If I could work on u-boot, Barebox, Linux, or dev kits as my main role, that’d be really cool. I want the projects I work on to be open source as there’s a huge number of very smart people out there who will critique my code and point me in the right direction. Learning from them, either by getting feedback or just watching them work, is quite fun.
Overall, I’m hugely thankful for the opportunity to dive into embedded the way I have. My company, BeagleBoard.org, the Cross Linux From Scratch project, u-boot, Linux, and Debian have all been awesome places for me to learn and grow.
I’m not sure how to end this. So, thanks, if you’ve worked with me, helped me, or simply made something that I’ve used to learn with.
I hope everyone has a great holiday. See you next year!