Linux

What computer should I get for college?

Episode 1373

Tara from Menifee, CA
Dell XPS 13

Tara is going back to college to become an electrical engineer and is trying to find the right computer for the job. Should she get a tablet or a MacBook? She'll be doing coding as well. Leo says that if there's specific software, then she'll likely need to use the platform that supports it. She should talk to an advisor and ask them. Since she's doing electrical engineering and not computer science, then a Linux computer may actually work for her. She should get any laptop she likes and then she can put Linux on it. Most coders prefer it anyway.

Why is my computer so slow?

Episode 1365

Roger from Pasadena, CA
SSD

Roger is having issues with his SSD. It's slowing down and takes a long time to access his data. Leo says the drive is only a year old and the computer a few years old, but there can be a drive failure, even in new SSDs. It's time to replace it. He could try running an OS from a USB key and see what happens. If he doesn't have a similar issue, that clearly shows the hard drive has a problem.

Can I modify a Chromebook to use Windows or Linux?

Episode 1364

Joe from San Dimas, CA
Samsung Chromebook Plus

Joe wants to know why he can't modify a Chromebook to download other software to it. Leo says he can modify a Chromebook and put Linux or Windows on it, but he'll lose a ton of security.

Joe will have to disable the Secure Boot feature. Then he can put a Linux shell called Crouton on it. Leo's done it before. He may also have to modify the firmware by putting it in Developer Mode. But he may not be able to boot it up. If that happens, he can always Powerwash it to get back to where he started.

Should I put Linux on my old laptop?

Episode 1360

Joe from Corona, CA
XUbuntu

Joe has an old Vista computer that he uses mostly for syncing an old Windows Phone PDA. Joe would like to take that laptop and put Linux on it with an SSD. Leo says that Linux is a good idea, but that Vista laptop is probably not fast enough to get any great benefit from an SSD. But he should definitely install Linux on it. Leo likes XUbuntu and LUbuntu, which is designed to run on the older hardware.

How can I learn programming?

Episode 1351

Brennon from Dallas, TX
Learn to Program with Minecraft book

Brennon wants to learn how to program. Leo says learning how to write computer code will give him a deeper understanding on how computers work. This will take him from being merely a consumer, to being a maker. Minecraft can be a fun way to learn programming. He can even do it with a Raspberry Pi for $35. It comes with the software used to write programs and he can do it inside of Minecraft.

A great book is Learn to Program with Minecraft by Craig Richardson.

What's the best way to share photos on Google?

Episode 1348

John from Los Angeles, CA
Google Photos

John has all his family on Google Fi and he has created a special email address for everyone to use to send images. Leo says he can do that, but Google Photos has a shared album feature, and that would be far easier. So how does he download the images to his desktop? Leo says he could use Google Drive, which has a setting to backup photos automatically. He can then sync it back to his computer with the Google Drive app. It's for Windows and Mac, but they are working on a Linux version as well. But he should look around, because there's probably one on sourceforge or something.

Is Linux safe for banking?

Tom from Tehachapi, CA

Episode 1347

Tom has an old Windows computer and he does online banking and shopping. Would it be safer to install Linux on his PC? Leo says that as long as "https" can be seen, he's secure. Leo also recommends using either Android Pay or Apple Pay for an additional layer of security. That doesn't send his credit card number at all. Linux is far less hackable. Using a Chromebook would also be an affordable option, and it's very secure as well. It's the easiest solution, and they're very cheap.

How can I test my Linux network speed?

Jeff from Idaho Falls, ID

Episode 1346

Jeff is having speed issues on the internet with his Linux machine. How can he check for speed? Leo says that Linux has built in utilities just for this purpose. How about something that's cross platform with Windows? Leo says that is a different issue. He can run SpeedTest.net but that will only give him the speed of his internet connection, not his computer.

How can I stream with my Raspberry Pi?

Episode 1342

Don from Fullerton, CA
Raspberry Pi

Bret bought his first Raspberry Pi in a kit and it comes with Linux. Leo says yes, it's called Despian. He can't get his Chrome browser to stream certain websites because they are missing plugins, though. Leo says that's because there is an open system like Linux, some sites refuse to use it due to copyright and piracy worries. He should try using Plex or XBMC as a media server. It could do a better job of handshaking. NOOBS would allow him to choose a different OS like RaspBMC.

Why can't I buy stuff online with Internet Explorer?

Episode 1340

Russ from High Desert, CA
Mozilla Firefox

Russ is having trouble buying things online. The site he's using won't take his payments. Leo says that's likely due to the browser Russ is using that doesn't support the current SSL encryption standards. Leo recommends using another browser like Chrome. Since Russ is using Vista, Chrome doesn't support it either. It may be time to get a new computer if he wants to shop online.