I've been running Ubuntu Linux for a few years now and it's by far my favorite distro out there right now. It's simple to use, quick to install and everything works out of the box. I used to run Gentoo but I got tired of compiling everything all the time to install things and spending days on end configuring the machine just to use it. I'm a huge fan of the debian packages now and Ubuntu makes everything that much easier.
That said, the install on my laptop (a Dell Inspiron 8500) has been bugging me for a while. The touchpad on the thing just wasn't sensitive enough and the Ubuntu configuration did nothing to change the speed. Today I did a little Googling and found this site. On it were some instructions on how to make the Synaptics touchpad faster.
Basically, all you need to do is edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file to change the speed settings. Locate the InputDevice section that uses the synaptics driver and add the following lines:
Option "MinSpeed" "0.5" Option "MaxSpeed" "3" Option "AccelFactor" "0.05"
Note that these numbers are a little different from the site linked, but they feel right on my machine. I am running on a 15" WSXGA+ screen after all, so I have a lot more pixels to traverse. Play with the values a little and see what works for you.
EDIT: Apparently Ubuntu has taken up the HAL system. Jay took the liberty of posting an update to tweaking your mouse settings. Kudos!