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The default linux kernel config (at least in Ubuntu and Arch) is not as optimized for desktop responsiveness as linux-ck or Zen Kernel. The difference between those kernels and the default one is very noticeable when the CPU or disk load is high.

Is there anyway to make the default kernel better for UI responsiveness?

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    I don't think so. Anything you do will mean it is no longer the "default kernel" for the distribution/version you installed.
    – 0xSheepdog
    Apr 24, 2019 at 21:27

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A/ It is not the kernel .config which makes your kernel less optimized for desktop responsiveness than linux-ck or Zen kernels.
linux-ck and Zen kernels just use a different scheduler.

B/ Mainline kernel offers many ways to increase desktop responsiveness without the need to patch or reconfig it.

Many tweaks can be activated using the cfs-zen-tweaks you can download and just run but I would advise you just read the very simple code and learn how each of the tweaks impact.

Don't hesitate to lower the priority of your cpu-bound processes (compilations, simulations...) and increase the priority of your interactive tasks thanks to the renice command and even change their scheduling policy using chrt

Ultimately, you can always pin interrupts to dedicated cpus (setting desired values in /proc/irq/[irq_id]/smp_affinity) , having one in charge of the keyboard and the mouse, another one for the graphic adaptor a third one for the sound card and a fourth one housekeeping for all the possible remaining.

Just plenty of solutions left opened without changing a byte in your distro-kernel.

Have fun!

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