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I may be clutching at straws, but did you run something called "Reader
I just encountered the same message ("A plug-in used to perform search is missing...") when trying to search a newly opened document with an old installation of Adobe that functioned well before.
I'm running a Debian unstable system with Adobe Reader 8.1.2 01/15/2008.
The interesting thing is that after restarting just the Adobe Reader, everything was normal again.
I don't know how this could have any meaning or importance but when the message appeared I was trying to search for a three letter word, but then after I restarted the application, tried searching for a longer word, and the search worked, later searching for a three letter word turned out to be successful as well.
It might be that you accidentally had Shift down while Reader was
starting. This would block all the plug-ins from loading.
That's probably what happened. Just tried holding shift and starting Adobe Reader again. No search plug-in. If I don't hold shift while starting it, everything's back to normal.
Admittedly, until now it has never happened to me but IMHO developers should consider adding a simple dialog box with notice about what happened, instead people will be re-installing Adobe Reader for no real reason.