My attempts to speed up Kazehakase by recompiling it, along with XULRunner, were only a modest success, but I did learn a few things, or at least about a few utilities that help.
First, if you’re using Arch Linux and you’re not using yaourt, you’re missing out. Yaourt makes everything easier. On top of all the nifty things it adds to pacman, you also get a great tool for compiling and building your own customized software.
For example, in my case, I’m having a terrible time getting abs to install. I get weird FTP errors (“Invalid PROTO command from server,” or something like that) and the tree won’t download or unfold for me. It’s frustrating, since I really wanted to be able to custom-compile some other applications.
Yaourt to the rescue: I open a folder for the application I want to remake.
yaourt -G pkgname grabs the PKGBUILD and any associated construction files from AUR or the Arch repositories. Then I can edit the PKGBUILD manually, or use something like customizepkg to carve it into the shape I desire. And makepkg takes care of the rest.
Of course, when I started out using Arch, I picked it because I had no desire to compile things myself, and I still don’t (most of the time). I still feel time lost to recompiling is generally better spent doing more interesting things … like using your computer.
On the other hand, I also think that for some very old machines, Arch Linux is an improvement over Ubuntu, mostly because it’s leaner, but also because Arch seems geared toward low-level tweaks. Granted, similar tools are probably there for Ubuntu, but if you’re going to work at that level, it’s hard to beat the scripts and tools Arch users have designed for the task.
And besides, when I do try another Ubuntu installation, I have all the information I need for rebuilding the same applications, from the Arch side of the house.