Ubuntu devs plan on making a notable typographic change in the upcoming release of Ubuntu 23.10 ‘Mantic Minotaur’.

In an effort to improve the quality and (marginally) reduce the number of fonts a standard Ubuntu install comes with, the plan is to ship the Noto fonts package by default. This package includes sans-serif and serif fonts that cover a swathe of latin and non-latin scripts.

In current versions of Ubuntu the DejaVu fonts package is pre-installed and pre-configured to handle non-latin scripts. With this change Noto fonts will take over duties for cases where DejaVu would be used (such as display text on web pages).

The quality of Noto is said to be as good as and in some cases better than DejaVu, so that’s a plus.

Let me stress one thing (lest the gatekeepers of the oFficIal uBuNTu cOmMuNiTy get their gills giddy in hope I’d not mention it): this motion does not affect the choice of default font for the desktop UI. That continues to be “Ubuntu” (side-note: a ‘classic’ version of the Ubuntu font can now be installed in 23.10 for those less keen on the updated edition introduced earlier this year).

Got that? Ubuntu remains the main default font.

Ubuntu’s Gunnar Hjalmarsson tabled this change (which after a few weeks of discussion is now being rolled out to Mantic daily builds through an ubuntu-meta package update) and notes:

It’s worth mentioning that e.g. Fedora and some of our own flavors already use Noto fonts by default. Debian does so too if you install e.g. the GNOME desktop on Debian, since fonts-noto-core is pulled in that case and fontconfig upstream prefers Noto nowadays.

While this effort will mean some font packages for non-latin scripts are removed from the default image they will remain available in the archive, so anyone who wants to install ’em, can. Additionally, this change will not affect the mono variant of DejaVu which remains included.

If you’re not actively using DejaVu there’s not an awful lot to be excited by this change — there’s a chance you’ve never noticed DejaVu fonts were included — but if you do make use of them, I figured you may want to be aware of this development.

Fonts Mantic Minotaur Ubuntu 23.10