Blender screen blacks out

I just installed Blender 2.49 on my laptop running linux. After extracting the files, I opened Blender and it seemed to work fine. I needed to turn on the numpad emulator, but when I scrolled over to the user preference window, everything went black except the outline of the window. After that, the 3D view window would come up but the rest of blender would be black and all the windows would flash in and out of being black. During all this I was still able to manipulate the object in the 3D view window, and I was able to click the menus but they would not be visible.
If it helps, I have just installed a new operating system on my computer.
Any help would be greatly appreciated! I’m still trying to learn about blender, and would like to keep going soon.

It’s worth shot updating your graphics driver to see if that helps any.

Richard