This only changes dns for the current connection, but is there also a way for a Global DNS change? Now, switch to the "Wired" or "Wireless" tabs, depending on what you use - I use WiFi, so I'll be using that.
Switch to the IPv4 tab, and then change it from automatic DHCP to Automatic (DHCP) addresses only. While you can change the DNS server in the network settings on any PC it is best to change them in the actual router that connects to the internet so all connected devices benefit from it. This solution will work everywhere and you will always get the DNS that you have chosen as the primary one.
I've already done that, but the router then still acts as an intermediate name server between clients and the configured name server, and it is still very slow. Switch to the IPv4 Settings tab of the connection window and change the method from Automatic (DHCP) to Automatic (DHCP) addresses only.

There's an network manager icon in the panel (the one displaying your network status) that you can right click to edit the connections.
In that case, it's probably a server with manually-configured networking, in which case your answer is perfectly appropriate. For headless servers where there's no X and management is via ssh or whatever, a command-line solution is necessary.
I found that adding the line dns-nameserver ip to the interfaces file, setting the wired connection ipv4 settings to Automatic (DHCP) settings only and entering the DNS server IP and domain name. Whenever I browse to a website for the first time in ubuntu, resolving the domain name takes at least 15 seconds. Just log into its admin and as long as it's not the router causing the problem, all your client machines get better DNS.
Also adding the local DNS IP to the DSL router static DNS section causes NetworkManager to include this local address in the resolv.conf file that it overwrites along with other info retrieved from the router.

If a machine isn't running X but does have a suitable GUI installed, you could also run the graphical tools over SSH using ForwardX11=yes. All of these together seems to make local DNS name resolution persistent - a surprisingly difficult task it seems. Setting DNS for a LAN can also be helpful, if the lan is large enough I personally either use the router or dnsmask. My need for local DNS is for mounting a Linux client to a Samba share using mount.cifs on a DHCP served network.

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