Not At Home
It might sound like another bunch of excuses, but unfortunately, we haven't been able to ship your rewards yet. As we wrote in previous update, we were going to test the 100 USB flash disks we got from the factory for any errors, before shipping (to make sure they are of adequate quality and are working properly with KolibriOS), and we were confident they would pass the tests. Well, it turned out that we were probably too confident: while on the outside, the 100 flash disks from the batch order looked identical to the sample disks we have tested before (and found good), inside they turned out to be completely different (using another flash controller, of VERY poor quality):
Test sample: 4,028,649,472 bytes 3.75 GB USBSTOR\DISK&VEN_GENERIC&PROD_FLASH_DISK&REV_8.07\964F0348&0
Batch order: 4,018,630,656 bytes 3.74 GB USBSTOR\DISK&VEN_GENERAL&PROD_UDISK&REV_5.00\1309181123081203973415&0
What we said above effectively means that, although the fake memory size detection tool H2testw 1.4 reported that the actual memory size in the batch order is correct (~4GB*), the flash controller was not working in half of the computers we have tested. This had led to various errors, depending at which stage exactly the controller malfunctioned:
- In some computers (mainly older ones), the flash controller is not detected by BIOS, so the flash disks cannot be bootable at all on those computers (they can neither boot KolibriOS nor Linux or any other OS)
- On other computers, BIOS detects the USB flash and KolibriOS can boot from it, but it's no longer seen once KolibriOS has finished booting, so you can't use any additional programs in KolibriOS that don't fit on the floppy image (like our video player Fplay)
- There are computers where those flash disks work fine until the first reboot, and then random bad things begin to happen, which are stopped only with hard reset / power off.
* We all know that memory/disk manufacturers always count 1Kbyte as 1000 bytes, rather than 1024 - for marketing purposes, as this allows them to advertise more disk space than they actually provide. That's no different with our flash disks - they have 3.75 GB real capacity, but 4 GB "marketing" capacity.
Our USB stack developer CleverMouse has tried to overcome the above errors, and 2 days ago she managed to create a workaround for the second problem: the faulty flash controller will be sent a "Reset" command in KolibriOS a few times, until it responds properly. To be clear, that is not a KolibriOS bug but a hardware fault, which she simply circumvented because it cannot be really solved. As she discovered in other OSes, Linux also uses this workaround.
Unfortunately, issues 1 & 3 are outside of our control, because they happen during BIOS operation, before KolibriOS even starts loading. Sending the USB disks "as is" to you now is completely unacceptable to us, since their quality is below all standards, and half of the backers might find out the disks don't work on their PCs. This leaves us the only choice - approach the factory and request them to replace the disks.
Fortunately, as we have explained previously in Update #11, we decided to procure the flash disks from local factory, rather than from eBay / DealExtreme etc. Hence yesterday we got there and showed them the problem. They asked us to let them think about it for 24 hours, and today they called us and invited us to come to them with all the 100 faulty disks, and they should replace the faulty with new ones. So on Sunday we are going to them again, and we'll surely keep you updated! We don't want to be too confident this time, so we are going to double-check the disks already at the factory, before we are even taking them home.