What the other posters are saying is dead on. There are many factors that will determine how hard your job search is.
1) The school you attend. Many companies have a limited recruiting budget and will only focus on a few schools. The current department managers have alot of influence over that. I worked for one company and I am not kidding you; I think close to 80% of the department were Univ of Fl grads.
2) GPA. Many companies will set minimum requirements for GPA's. Smaller companies (in my experience) have a tendency to overlook a lower GPA if a student were working many hours to pay their way thru college, or if the candidate has some form of proven work experience in a related field.
3) Co-Op/Internship. As a former recruiter I feel this is the BIGGEST asset overlooked by undergrads. At a career fair, if a candidate walks up to me with his resume and he has a positive reccomendation from his direct supervisor from an internship/co-op, I am going to heavily weight that candidate over other candidates with a better GPA.
Does your school have a career resource center of some type? I would check with them to see which companies are actively offering internships (usually unpaid) or co-ops (1-2 semesters; paid) and then actively pursue it.
If they dont have a center, then I would talk to your academic advisor and/or professors. You would be suprised at the # of profs doing ad-hoc consulting work with private industry. They usually will have contacts with various area companies.
As for difficulty in finding a job. If you limit yourself to a particular region, I think you will find it harder to land a job. I can only speak to the VA/DC/MD region. People with solid linux skills are in very high demand.
If you love programming, that probably means you are skilled at it. You should not have a problem getting a job upon graduation.
The names of entry level positions varies from company to company. I have seen programmers called: Engineer I; Design Engineer I; Programmer I, Systems Analyst I (I think this is very common in edu/gov positions)
Go to this website: http://www.salary.com/home/layoutscript ... isplay.asp
under Job Title, click IT- Computer, Software
You will see many common position names.
As for compensation: Yes you need to live. But please dont make the mistake of chasing the money while sacrificing your job hapiness.
In my current position I took a 30% pay cut (I was a consultant before) to land this job and I have never been happier. I work with a dynamic group of intelligent, fun people.
Keep us up to date with how your search is going. If you dont mind, post the college you are attending.