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Maplin CnM Book


The Maplin CnM Book is basically a webook computer that runs a custom version of Debian Linux. I have had my eyes on this bit of kit for a while now, but wanted to wait until I could play with one until I decided if it would be any good for me. I often commute between Dereham and Norwich on the X1 route. This journey can sometimes take up to an hour to complete (Depending on Traffic). I thought that this time could be better spent updating my blog or doing some research on the Web along with reading emails and other stuff. So with all this in mind it looked like the CnM Book could fill this role.

A mutual friend of my partners and I bought one of these Machines and I have the use of it while he is at work. My first thought where wow, its small. The screen is small but crisp and the machine itself is reasonably zippy at OS level. Bon Echo (A cut down version of Firefox) supplies browser functionality albeit basic and very incomplete. I have to say that I was a little ticked off with the fact that I could not download pictures from the web, I’m sure there is a patch out there to fix this and as always GIYF. I wrote this post using the CnM Book and to be honest it was painful. WordPress does not render correctly in the browser and Scripts seem to stop functioning, I eventually resorted to using Xip Word ( That’s Abi Word to you and me ) and even that was a painful experience due to the very small keyboard.

Installing Software was easy using the packages supplied on CnM’s site ( There is even a package that gives you root access!! One application that did worry me was Video Online (http://www.skytone.net.cn/en/download_show.php?id=2&smallclass=12&article_id=132). I downloaded this for my friend that owns this machine because he is a big fan of Utube, unfortunately it looks like you have to register this program and pay for a registration key!! I wouldn’t mind this if there where Open Source alternatives but as far as I can tell there isn’t anything and there was no warning of this on the CnM Downloads Page. All in all I think I will steer clear of this machine. I think my friend will be happy with it as it does fulfill the purpose for which he bought it. I have spoken with my partner about this and she agrees with me that its a nice bit of kit.

The whole thing seems like it is a ‘concept’ or ‘beta’ product that is good conceptually but lacks in the delivery department. I know that Linux can be better than this, I just think it has been rushed rather than polished. If you want a new toy to hack around with and you are competent with Linux then go for it!! Otherwise I would recommend saving your money for a proper Laptop / Netbook.

I think Little Linux Laptop sum this product up perfectly “YES! If you want a small portable laptop to take on trips or whatever you want to surf the web, IM chat, send and receive e-mail, work on your Word / Excel files, read PDF’s and experiment a little with installing games and software then this is the laptop for you!


7 Responses

  1. You know what I think about this piece of equipment…….the only good thing about it is that it fits in my handbag !! Sorry babes xxxxx

  2. I was interested in your wordpress rendering problem and thought I might take a look at what validator.w3.org said about your site:


    It is a bit shocking that wordpress.com cannot follow web standards.

    When wordpress.com decide that today is the day to render entirely compliant html (standards are published at w3.org) then the html of your site will render on any browser perfectly.

    It is a bit harsh to blame cnmbook for using an okay browser then using a buggy rendering page as the acid test.

    Everyone who sees a site that does not render properly should post the url into validator.w3.org to check the page before drawing any conclusion.

  3. I think Gary has a good point, but how many sites follow web standards these days. The market that these “WebBooks” are aimed at are going to want YouTube, Facebook etc and I think that this is where the CnMBook just can’t deliver, Its not its fault, the web seems to be all about window dressing nowadays, the focus has moved from solid content to (For example) social networking, or maybe I’m just getting old…I do however have a soft spot for the CnMBook. It’s a brave effort….in a difficult market place.

  4. I,m just trying to figure out how to get over that YouTube issue; I’ve found the forums they link to from the CNMlifestyle site usefull.

  5. Extract from facebook ‘accessibility’ section of the website

    Do you provide a HTML only version of the site?
    Yes, Facebook’s mobile version of the site is HTML only and is compatible with Internet Explorer 7 (and above) and other supported browsers, like Firefox 2 (and above) and Safari 3. Please use the following link to start using the HTML only version of Facebook (http://m.facebook.com).


    If you have any problems viewing facebook then drop them an email and they will take a look. Facebook take this thing seriously and are making an effort to ensure that they reach the maximum audience by using web standards and having a tailored section for mobile/smallscreen devices.

    If your browser is older than Firefox 2 then that might be a problem but then again these sub £150 things are only meant to be kept for a year or 18 months and then you get a new one (with a browser that is bang up to date also).

    Now we are just waiting on wordpress to launch an m.wordpress.com? and also put a bit more effort into their main site’s html for good measure – checking your page at validator.w3.org – its not rocket science as most websites can testify.

  6. I’ve just inherited a Windows version of this from my mum and I want to get Linux on it so I can use it for remote access when I am on holiday in September. Anyone got any ideas on how to re-install? The support guys didn’t reply to my request and the system restore steps don’t seem fruitful. ie. there aren’t 2 files in the recovery zip just one REC file and sitting there pressing F3 doesn’t get you into the recovery console.

    Any ideas?

    • Hi Rob

      Thanks for the comment on my CnM Webook article . I am afraid that I no
      longer have the CnM Webbook so I can’t really help that much. However I
      noticed that you mention that the recovery file you downloaded only
      contained one file!

      I popped over to http://www.cnmlifestyle.com/ and downloaded the first
      Linux recovery image (There are two sets of recovery files dependant on
      your machines Serial Number)I opened it with Xarchiver and found that
      there where two files contained in the archive:



      (These two files total 307 Megs or so when extracted)

      So I guess my question would be, do you think the file you downloaded
      may be corrupt? Could be worth trying again?

      Also you can only run the recovery files from a FAT formatted SD card
      when restoring these machines, I often make the mistake of formatting
      the SD’s to FAT16 or 32. Is this something you might have done by

      I know its not a lot of info, but I do hope it helps.

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