What's the performance difference b/w arch linux and other distros like Ubuntu

I’m asking this question because other distros are preconfigured and I can imagine they might do some performance tweaks here and there too for desktop usage.

Now, let’s say I install arch linux, install graphics drivers on it and a desktop environment and not do performance tweaks as mentioned in the arch wiki in this page : https://wiki.archlinux.org/title/improving_performance

Would there be a significant performance difference b/w ubuntu or fedora compared to my mostly vanilla arch linux install.
Has anyone tested this out? As I think many people don’t do these performance tweaks as mentioned in the wiki.

CPU and GPU performance differences should be too small to notice or worry, based on my experience.

What is mostly noticeable is disk and RAM usage, since Arch and EndeavourOS let you install a system that is very minimal by default, while Ubuntu and similar systems come with a lot of software by default and more services that start up on boot.

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It depends how you define “performance”. And it depends on how you define “significant”.

Performance: Is that application througput for you? For example, darktable number of RAW images converted to jpg per minute? Or is that more like “responsiveness” for you? Responsiveness in the sense that the system is still responding to mouse clicks and key strokes in a timely manner although the system is under load.

And what does “significant” mean. Is a 5 % difference significant? Or is is 10 or 20 %?

Look at this test:

This is testing throughput performance for clear linux, debian, ubuntu, fedora, centos and Endeavouros. If I leave clear linux out of the comparison, the geometric mean of all test results ranges from 73,90 (slowest) to 76,49 (fastest) = 75.20 +/- 1.70 %

I would not include clear linux in such a comparison because clear linux is making heavy optimization not only for the kernel but also for applications. This is too different to the other distros. But if I would include Clear Linux in the comparion the avg. is 77,51 +/- 4.66 %

That means, that you can expect 1.70 to 4.66 % performance difference in average. And the difference between fastest (clear linux) and slowest (endeavouros) is 9.8 %.

This is an academic difference, because you will not notice a 10 % difference when you are sitting in front of the computer.


The main performance differences I have noticed between Ubuntu, Fedora, and EndeavourOS are in boot time and the speed at which applications start. Fedora and EndeavourOS both boot faster on my machine, and apps subjectively load much faster. This was especially true of the snaps–like Firefox–in Ubuntu, which was so slow to load, though that improved somewhat with updates before I quit using Ubuntu. No performance tweaks.

Here are some boot times from systemd-analyze for some older hardware (Intel i7 3770K):

Fedora 36, Nvidia GT 610, nouveau? driver:
$ systemd-analyze 
Startup finished in 10.393s (firmware) + 1.731s (loader) + 889ms (kernel) + 20.010s (initrd) + 10.681s (userspace) = 43.705s 

Ubuntu 22.04, Nvidia GT 610, 390 Nvidia driver:
$ systemd-analyze 
Startup finished in 11.116s (firmware) + 4.994s (loader) + 35.797s (kernel) + 6.625s (userspace) = 58.532s

Ubuntu 22.04, Nvidia GT 610, nouveau driver:
$ systemd-analyze 
Startup finished in 10.981s (firmware) + 3.489s (loader) + 15.855s (kernel) + 14.106s (userspace) = 44.433s

EndeavourOS, KDE, BIOS at performance, integrated video:
$ systemd-analyze
Startup finished in 9.614s (firmware) + 3.188s (loader) + 757ms (kernel) + 11.281s (initrd) + 3.388s (userspace) = 28.230s

Subjectively, EndeavourOS with KDE is much snappier (no pun intended) than Ubuntu 22.04 for me, but performance isn’t the only reason to choose a rolling release like EndeavourOS. I got tired of being stuck with bugs in apps until the next version of Ubuntu came out that included the latest (fixed) versions.