what Version of Ubuntu are you using? Did you try using the live-CD?
Sounds like X is misconfigured or the autodetection software didn't properly identify you Video Chip. It seems to be pretty old hardware but should work. check the /etc/X11/xorg.conf to make sure your using the correct driver.
From what I can gather from the linux laptop site
"...you have to choose a screen resolution no less then 1280x1024, if you choose a lower resoultion then your system may encounter some problems to start X correctly"
That my be your only problem