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In Firefox I've had a font problem I can't figure out. A lot of websites are displayed using the bitmap font called "Clean". It seems like I'm missing whatever font the website wants to use, and Firefox is just substituting "Clean" instead. It's small, not very readable, and the bold version of it looks "smeared".
The only thing I've found to get rid of it is to uncheck "Allow pages to choose their own fonts, instead of my selections above" in the font preferences. The problem with that is a lot of pages aren't formatted properly if they don't use their own fonts.
I can't find anything in web searches about this "Clean" font or why it's a default. Searching for information about "clean" and "font" just turns up generic information about tuning fonts, for obvious reasons.
Other info - I'm pretty sure I have the MS Webfonts installed because I have Arial, Georgia, and Verdana available. I'm not sure why they don't get used since most sites are probably set up to use them. I'm using Firefox 22.214.171.124. Yes, I know it's old. I don't like 3.x.
I can help at least with your question in your report: I don't think this has anything to do with the distro in use.
I have had the same issue, but do not have a solution. Stand by for more help after Christmas is over. (Especially, the first rainy day after Christmas.....
PS: I would always have the latest Firefox installed--even if only for occassional use (just put it in /opt and link it to some unique name) There are all manner of useful things that get added in the later releases.