Hi I've tried running ubuntu-11.10-desktop-i386.iso from USB and CD (note trying not installing), sometimes it makes it to the home screen (booting from USB) but doesn't respond to mouse of keyboard input when there. Is there a known issue or fix or more compatible version for use with a Toshiba M50-192 laptop. Would love to change from XP to Linux many thanks
You have a low spec laptop that does not meet the minimum system requirements to run 11.10 in my opinion.
A Pentium 4, 1GHz system is the minimum recommended for a desktop system and your laptop has a Celeron M processor.
You would be better to try a lighter desktop version designed for lower spec hardware - either Xubuntu or Lubuntu
Have a read through the Ubuntu Community Documentation on Installation & System Requirements it also gives you links to the other desktop options.