Try Color Emoji in 18.04

Since the Color Emoji feature was mentioned in the most recent Desktop Weekly Newsletter, let’s show you how you can try it now.

This requires Ubuntu 18.04 (which is still in early Alpha)

There are two color emoji fonts easily available.

Emoji One / Emoji Two

The Emoji One font will be used by default in Fedora 27 which will be released later this month. Because the Emoji One developers decided to only release new versions of Emoji One under a license that forbids modification and re-distribution, the font has been forked as Emoji Two. Emoji Two is not yet ready to be packaged by LInux distros so we’re still using the last version of Emoji One before the licensing change.

From a terminal, run:
sudo apt install fonts-emojione

Noto Color Emoji

The Noto Color Emoji font is the emoji font used in the latest stock Android devices such as the Google Pixel phones. Although an official decision has not been made yet, it looks like this is the emoji font that will be included by default with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

This new package has to be manually approved by the Debian ftpmaster team before it will be available in the regular archives. But if you don’t want to wait, you can download it from the Ubuntu Desktop Transition PPA.

If you have both Emoji One and the Noto fonts installed, in my testing the Emoji One font is used except for emoji that Noto provides that Emoji One does not.

Then What?

I recommend installing the GNOME Characters app to easily browse emoji.

Optionally, you can enable emoji search in the Activities Overview by using the Settings app. Just open Settings > Search and turn on Characters.

In most apps using GTK, you can right-click in a text field and select Insert Emoji to get an emoji chooser. If the app you’re using doesn’t have that option, please file a bug. I already filed one for gedit.

What’s Next

  1. After the Noto Color Emoji font is in Ubuntu, we’ll need to file a bug to request that it be moved to main. Packages in main are officially supported by Canonical. A package must be in main before it can be included by default in Ubuntu. The bug requests for this process are called MIR bugs.
  2. We already have a MIR bug for GNOME Characters to replace the older Character Map (gucharmap).
  3. Once those MIRs are approved, we can add them as recommends from ubuntu-desktop to include them in Ubuntu by default.


This work is also being done in Debian. Debian doesn’t yet have fontconfig 2.12.6 which is required for the color emoji feature to work well. It also doesn’t have the Emoji One font. It might make sense to just wait for Emoji Two to be packageable instead of packaging the old version of Emoji One.


I will definitely be trying this out and submitting bugs when encountered once Ubuntu 18.04 daily builds are made avaliabe.

I’m personally not a big fan of Noto-Emoji font, I find it kinda weird (especially on small sizes), but I love that we will have color emoji in 18.04 ! :slight_smile: I think I’ll personally install twemoji if I can… (or learn to like it as maybe it’s just me that have seen only flat emoji for a long time xD)

But cheers for color emojis in Ubuntu 18.04 :smiley: ! That kind of small feature isn’t a “big” thing but help to have a more polished experience, imho.

@kazhnuz My understanding of twemoji is that it’s not really in the right format to be used as the system emoji font for our default desktop.

The Fedora developers are hoping to use the Noto Color Emoji build system to make Emoji Two available for that use. Once that’s done, maybe it won’t be too difficult for someone to do the same work for twemoji.

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Oh, my bad, I didn’t know that there where several different format ! I made some more research, and now I see, I though that the “SVGinOT” fonts were the same than the color font needed by Cairo and GTK. Sorry for the mistake !

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No problem at all. I just learned about all that recently while working on this issue!

rumor has it that corebird is shipping color emoji in the snap right NOW! for ANY SNAP supported distro!!!




How to get it on LibreOffice?

Please file a bug against LibreOffice.

Maybe Joe (OMG Ubuntu) or Andrew (webup8) can set up a cairo PPA for Artful to get some wider (mainstream) testing?


Got it installed on my Dell Inspiron 14" last night. Going to be testing it out.

Yes please can we have an artful PPA or in the “testing” branch so we can try it!

@jyaku @jb27g12 Sorry, the color emoji feature requires major updates to the low-level cairo and fontconfig libraries so I’m not personally going to maintain a PPA for it.

If you want to try it out, just use Ubuntu 18.04 (still in early Alpha). I recommend testing in a virtual machine like VirtualBox.

It works like a charm!

Works good in terminal and file explorer!


How do I make it work with Firefox/Chrome/LibreOffice/all other software? Do they need to be patched/updated one by one?


Firefox, Chrome/Chromium, and LibreOffice all have separate font handling. A developer will need to add support in those apps.

By the way, here’s a status update. The Noto Color Emoji is now available in Debian (Testing and Unstable) and Ubuntu 18.04 “Bionic” Alpha. It is installed by default in Debian GNOME. I expect it to be added to the main Ubuntu flavor in January (for 18.04 to be released in April).


As of now, is still in universe only, not in main.

I like that there is a easy emoji chooser available on right click, but a quick shortcut would be really great. Is there a shortcut already or a way to configure one?

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This is complete now. Today’s daily ISO build has the GNOME Characters app installed instead of the older Character Map app and Google’s Noto Emoji font is pre-installed.


@ben-8409 The next minor version of gtk3 is supposed to add Ctrl + . or Ctrl + ; as keyboard shortcuts for the emoji chooser.