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By default, the font is Liberation Serif. How do I change this behavior, so that "Ubuntu" becomes the default font?

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Navigate to Tools ➜ Options... ➜ Writer ➜ Basic Fonts (Western) and select the Ubuntu font from the combobox.

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The reason that Ubuntu has not (yet) been set as the default document font is because it's still in development. The the widths, kerning and spacing may continue to be tweaked and improved during development. In the user interface these adjusts just improve the look, but may cause document reflow (this is the "presentation problem", where having different/missing fonts can cause a carefully aligned presentation to change wrapping). Donald Knuth hit the same issue with updating the Computer Modern typeface fonts in 1992, see: –  sladen Mar 4 '11 at 0:03

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