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Is Arch Linux Really Faster Than Ubuntu?

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  • #31
    Originally posted by yoshi314 View Post
    those benchmarks test how the system performs under some heavy task. but not the general user experience when doing regular work.

    install ubuntu and arch on an older system (something from 2004 would be good, that's what i have at work atm) or an older laptop. and try doing some normal work like writing text, web, running a few heavier apps at once, git/svn/mercurial work. and run a webserver with cgit on top of that from that old pc.

    i can tell you straight, arch will work better. i know because i've been using it at work for the last 3 years, even though i've been using gentoo since 2004 on my home pc.

    package manager is very fast, system is very responsive. and most importanly the package manager doesn't try to outsmart me and run or configure system services for me. that's actually very helpful.
    Is VirtualBox with 512MB RAM / 8GB disk / 1 CPU close enough to an "older system" for you? Because Arch and Ubuntu perform pretty much identically on this configuration (yet Ubuntu starts up faster out of the box).

    How about a 1st-gen, single-core Atom CPU with 1GB memory and an Intel GMA950 for graphics? No appreciable difference between Arch and Ubuntu either. Just that Ubuntu 10.04 starts up faster again.

    Or a laptop with a mobile Pentium 3, an Ati 9600 video card and 512MB RAM? That's your 2004 configuration right there - and nope, tried Arch and it didn't make any difference either (at least up to late 2008 when I retired that system).

    I am/was using those of those for application development and light gaming (obviously not in the VMs!) The VMs, however, run a MySQL, Nginx and PHP5 for web development.

    About the only things that actually make a difference between Ubuntu and Arch is (a) that Ubuntu uses Compiz by default, if possible, and (b) Arch doesn't preload or start services in parallel unless you instruct it so (which plays a big role in boot time).

    Personally, I use Arch in VMs for development because I appreciate having up-to-date software. However, I use Ubuntu to host them, because its less of a hassle to maintain and update. Besides, if a VM goes down from a botched update, no big deal; if my workstation goes down, I'm f*cked.

    Performance doesn't even enter the equation, which is fine because it is pretty much identical, as those benchmarks demonstrate.


    • #32
      its not about speed, its about customisation. and arch pwns ubuntu for customisation. also, gentoo pwns arch in customisation, and once again its not about speed.


      • #33
        Originally posted by BlackStar View Post
        Blah blah, the same old drivel: "it feels faster to me", "yeah, the benchmarks aren't valid because I don't do that", "Ubuntu sucks because Compiz works as it should (wait what?)"

        The cold, hard numbers show Ubuntu performing identically to Arch. Previous benchmarks show it performing on par with Gentoo. Get over it.
        Depends on what you're measuring. Those who talk about a particular OS or Linux distro being "faster" aren't usually talking about benchmark speed, about the number of seconds it takes to transcode a video, etc.

        They're talking about the much more subjective "responsiveness", about how fast they perceive desktop operations to be. And that's a funny one, since *perceived* speed isn't necessarily the same as measured speed - a smooth transition when switching windows may be perceived as "faster" than one that takes less time but flickers a little. Screwy, sure, but that's the human brain for you...


        • #34
          Originally posted by BlackStar View Post
          yet Ubuntu starts up faster out of the box).
          That's for sure, because of archaic sysv init... ;> Both can be faster then each other if you use different fs mount option, compile some packages yourself, use different kernel options. Afaik default Arch and Ubuntu configs are similar, but usually package versions differ which is something obvious. Arch is lighter from the start and Ubuntu is not, because it has some scripts running. Btw. I guess it's obvious Compiz slowed Ubuntu down in graphics. With compiz disabled it should probably be at least as fast as Win7.


          I like descriptions very much in this comparison, thanks.


          • #35
            Originally posted by ethana2 View Post
            You can't blame upstream. If the compiz devs won't pull the patches Ubuntu needs to behave correctly, I expect Canonical to make their own bzr branch of compiz and ship it with Ubuntu instead.
            Pull what exactly, compiz can't have patches to start metacity, then restart itself.

            Compiz 0.9 will work with compositing.


            • #36
              Originally posted by BlackStar View Post
              Is VirtualBox with 512MB RAM / 8GB disk / 1 CPU close enough to an "older system" for you? Because Arch and Ubuntu perform pretty much identically on this configuration (yet Ubuntu starts up faster out of the box).

              Performance doesn't even enter the equation, which is fine because it is pretty much identical, as those benchmarks demonstrate.
              atom is too fast, and vm doesn't quite count - does it emulate ram speed as well? and the amd setup has a relatively fast video card.

              throw out a normal cpu (that has a sane cache size, and doesn't overheat on a whim) and take a crappy p4 celeron. put in intel i815 (it's not compiz-capable) video card, a quirky soundcard and network card that sometimes doesn't feel like cooperating. and a sata controller that has days when the disk works like it's a pata in PIO mode.

              this is the hardware i am using at work. and it's a 2004 setup.

              arch cooperates with this box really well. it beats windows by starting up in ~30 seconds.

              windows xp on that box (preinstalled by IT guys) takes well over 2 or 3 minutes to get to the login screen. and then some more to get to the desktop. and it's been used maybe for 30 minutes by me, since installation, so it's basically a default post-install setup, with AD login and some enforced antivirus suite.

              i can tell you, the crappier the hardware you work with, the better arch comes out in comparison. which is exactly my case.


              • #37
                Well, I'll give my 2 cents here to explain my point of being objective

                First, phoronix is comparing gcc / kernel / software version speed between 2 systems which of course will not have very large margin if mentioned things doesn't differ too much... This is written in article as well and that means every software package pure speed...
                What is not written is how it feels... I admit that "feels" is not very measurable, but what users usually say about "is faster" is how system behaves...
                Arch is "construct yourself" type of system, the speed slows down due to how many software / daemons / applets etc. are started, it consumes CPU and RAM. In ubuntu there are a lot of them in default (compared to arch), if you don't load arch with crap, it will behave slightly better under load than ubuntu... I won't seek for large margin, because there will not be, but difference under loaded system is visible to user... I bet under load in ubuntu I'll have to wait to load next mozilla / nautlius window / java app / anything slower than arch just becuase of load...
                I also admit that I could not take ubuntu longer than 3 months (3 years ago) due to various issues with my tv card... And yes, I'm using arch, not because of the speed of single software but because architecture - that is how packages are built, how flexible I can alter system, configure it and so on... That is not for newcomers, but when I came to arch from Fedora (I was pretty much newcomer), I felt it is working better, less bugs and stuff, it's easier to fix because of it doesn't alter sotware too much... Arch wiki hepled me a lot

                I hope you get the point what I'm trying to say
                I have heard and seen as well, that ubuntu is getting better than before, but still it's not for me...



                • #38
                  I doubt thwe performance hit is so big because of compiz. We have seen again that Ubuntu for some reason sucks with NVidia drivers.
                  Plz test Arch with compiz enabled to see if that's really the case.


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by grigi View Post
                    The reason this is an invalid comparison is because Rolling release distributions encourage much more customization.
                    That in turn encourages a more minimalist approach.
                    So the system is "lighter", and a lighter system gives the appearance of speed.

                    There is no real performance difference in separate apps/benchmarks, is because there isn't. But the system may feel faster because it is lighter.

                    Also, for my one dev environment, getting Ubuntu's build tools in proper order takes longer than installing Gentoo. Different use-cases require different distributions.

                    Honestly there is no such thin as a "standard recommended installation" for a rolling-release system.

                    Over the many years I played with lots of distributions, the only place I found a significant difference, was with a custom-built installation of Gentoo on a Atom system (because the Intel Atom is an in-order machine, and setting the compiler to produce optimal code for that really helps).
                    Arch feels faster because you can install only the applications you want. You don't want a full on desktop manager then fine, you can do what you want. That's why I like arch, because I prefer fvwm and a light weight OS on a heavy weight machine. All the customisations go some way towards speeding up the system. True that technically, since both are linux distrobutions, both can be stripped down to bare mechanical bones. Thing is, Arch philosophy revolves around that method so it's best to build a system that was intended to be light in the first place. Not bloated with every single package under the sun. That's what windows was for...

                    Originally posted by yotambien View Post
                    Agreed. If I remove the seats from my car it will weigh less and be faster. Not very comfortable though.

                    If you say that much I think you should back it up. It's probably true, but just an extra test with Compiz running in Arch would give you the actual numbers. Good job, though.
                    Yeah but, that depends on what you use your OS for. Sure if you want speed then go for it. Who ever said a ferrari was a comfortable car to drive in the city has no clue. Simple rule of thumb is that the machine is built for what it is intending to be used for. Wouldn't matter if it were ubuntu or arch, or even windows. Ubuntu could be quite easily stripped down and optimised. Arch just makes it a lot easier to do this.

                    Originally posted by yoshi314 View Post
                    archlinux is faster because it works faster as a desktop. especially on older hardware, like the pc i have at work. it's a sluggish p4 celeron. i tried ubuntu, but it was horrible. arch has been running there for 3 years now and i have no complaints.

                    personally, i don't care about compiz and games. arch package manager is faster, system updates are easier. i don't have unnecessary services running and the system itself can be kept small with no real effort.

                    getting a usable desktop that includes mp3/mpeg4 capable media player is also easy on arch.
                    Arch is faster on i686 machines but there seems to be marginal difference on x64 machines. I would argue that as time goes on, arch should hopefully improve the x64 releases and my guess is that Ubuntu will slowly become more bloated. =/ I'm already concerned that arch is becoming bloated as it is. Bloat will bring down even a super computer. John Carmack knows that "less is more". So does Ferrari. Make sacrifices in comfort simply to win, if that's what it takes.

                    I agree also that the package manager is what makes or breaks a linux distro. I got sick of gentoo for that reason. All this recompiling and no speed increases... Arch turned out faster in the end anyway... A lot of congratulations can go to the GCC developers for improving the rate at which new architectures are utilised best. So binary packages aren't so bad any more. (or any less). I don't like apt-get either, so any debian flavours aren't to my liking.

                    Originally posted by DanL View Post
                    Agreed on Arch being faster on my older system, but remember that 32-bit Arch Linux is i686-optimized, while 32-bit Ubuntu has not been up to this point (that's about to change). Note that the article uses 64-bit installs.
                    Originally posted by FreeBooteR69 View Post
                    I'ved used both Ubuntu and currently Arch and found Arch to much more responsive. With Arch you get the system you want. With Ubuntu you get the system they want for you.

                    The rolling release model and Arch's pacman package manager and ABS build system has been a dream to use.

                    Also for those who hate where Ubuntu is going (mono), you don't have to remove it after installation because you didn't install it in the first place.

                    The arguement from the supporters of Ubuntu is that if you don't like something you can always uninstall it. My arguement is that if you install Ubuntu, you are a supporter of mono, even if you hate it. By making Ubuntu popular, you are making mono popular because nobody will know that you removed mono and packages that are dependant on it.

                    If you load every software package Ubuntu uses into Arch, you won't see a massive improvement over Ubuntu because you are now laden with all the crap Ubuntu uses.

                    Arch is for me. Your mileage will vary.
                    Yes I don't think this article takes into consideration that Arch was once much faster back in the days. You'd have to be crazy 10+ years ago to make a i686 only distro, Not only were they unstable but they also didn't give much speed increase. Arch was one of the first few to give both in large quantities. These days though, GCC is so good that x64 binary release is possible on many distros no worres..

                    Originally posted by V!NCENT View Post
                    I think this is the problem everbody is dealing with here; load.

                    Modern computers have multi-core CPU's running at 2-3 gHz, RAM space counting in the gigabytes. Modern graphics cards measure their insane parallelisation in the theraflops.

                    These modern systems can handle load easiliy. In the case of modern computers you can achieve greater speed under a greater load. With less load comes less speed.

                    But what if you're having an older system? Parallel would kill you. The background services, drivers, applications, the GUI all run on the smae thread (with time slicing) as your favorite game. This is slowing things down horribly. So the problem is not speed on these systems, it is just load.

                    This ammount of load to increase speed in devastating for older computers and they crumble onder it.

                    So Ubuntu is faster on modern systems where Arch is actually slower.
                    On older systems Arch is faster than Ubuntu.

                    Load != Speed
                    And you know this is another thing. THE next big thing will be parallelism software. Software made on x64 no matter the distro isn't really factoring in the fact that I have 4 cores to play with. So technically, arch or ubuntu, neither are gaining much. An i386 that can make use of ALL 4 cores at once will do better than a x64 machine using just one core. So the article is unfortunately proving that Arch is falling by the wayside. Maybe some new (or should I say old super computer) programming techniques will start to emerge in the open source area. Hopefully long before windows... xD

                    Originally posted by RealNC View Post
                    Windows 7 pwns them both, so there.
                    LoL Yes and no. I'm getting sick of games that don't like windows 7. I'm having a lot of trouble with games that don't like the new environment. So Personally I think win xp is still doing damn well. Win7 just isn't compatible enough and there is a crap load of settings in win7 that were never there back in the days of XP. Linux usually doesn't have this problem because thank God for a community of hackers that are eager to get old stuff working again. xD Without the source code, trying to do the same thing on win7 is a nightmare. Not to mention that I still feel that Arch is far more responsive than windows 7.

                    Originally posted by V!NCENT View Post
                    In other words: load the CPU to the max and the speed is the same. Having to timeslice through the usual per time versus timeslicing throught the usual minus backgroudn services that check periodically and other services enables by default that one does not use means more CPU time for you favorite DE/WM and thus: snappier.
                    Yeah there is much less crap that you might not want. So the OS feels snappier. It makes good use of old hardware. I'm concerned that things are changing quick though and the other distros are catching up.

                    Originally posted by mrbig4545 View Post
                    its not about speed, its about customisation. and arch pwns ubuntu for customisation. also, gentoo pwns arch in customisation, and once again its not about speed.
                    That customisation is what allows you to fine tune the OS to give you speed. It is much more headache free than gentoo, even though gentoo is more or less the same. Except the whole portage nightmare... So give me Arch any day.

                    I've always wanted this comparison but I'm not sure it really explains much. Problem is your average user isn't going to spend the time customising the OS to make it faster. So Ubuntu still perfectly suits your average linux geek joe. So for people with old hardware, I would have to agree with yoshi314 in that it makes very good use of old hardware. Otherwise these days it's much of a muchness. An os that makes better use of threading (which linux does extremely well by default anyway), will probably be the OS of the future. That's more of a kernel thing anyway... Which can be compiled anyway heh... So yeah no "real" difference.


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by kraftman View Post
                      That's for sure, because of archaic sysv init... .
                      Arch Linux doesn?t use SysV init but BSD init, which made it faster in booting , at least for me and at least until upstart.
                      Alltough it takes quite a while till nautilus is loaded on Ubuntu

                      Mainly i use Ubuntu now, cos it takes less efford to maitain... But i still like to play with Arch, and it was never about the speed, but the easiness of customization, the great ABS and AUR , the stuff they borrowed from BSD like the "rc.conf", which is something all Linux distribution should have:-), and not to forget Pacman, which is in my case a lot faster and easier to use then apt.(But i have to confess that i never fully understaood why so many people were so fond about apt and specialy synaptic at all)