I uploaded a patch to the blender repository for the blender 2.44 sources which allows the use of the Space Navigator for Blender without the use of the proprietary drivers from 3D connexion. Instead the generic USB evdev driver from the Xorg server is used. Detailed instructions and link to the patch can be found in the blender forum under:
Please recognize that a dedicated project has been started for blender to support 6 DOF devices, so this patch is more or less an intermediate solution I made for myself.
Have fun space navigating