Searching is one of the five major functions of computerized information processing: searching, creating, modifying, storing and presenting. In the early days of PCs one could keep a scrap of paper or such with a list of floppies and a directory listing would get you close to your data sooner or later. Now, one can keep track of stuff on many terabytes of storage in an instant.
GNU/Linux has been ahead of that other OS in search for a long time. While users of that other OS were traversing directory trees in XP, GNU/Linux had Swish and Beagle. Now there are more than 1000 packages related to search in Debian’s repositories:
apt-cache search search|wc
1017 8574 62330
It was not until Vista came out with indexed search which was back-ported to XP that that other OS responded to people’s need to know what they had and where it was. Early versions of search on XP were pitifully slow. Folks often turned off indexing to speed up their systems. Here’s an article from 2001 documenting how search worked in XP from the outset. Indexed search was available but I never saw an XP machine with indexed search that worked quickly until Vista arrived.
On the other hand GNU/Linux had multiple search libraries and APIs that could be built into any application as needed. The people who do searching for a living use FLOSS widely. It works. GNU/Linux has web applications like Solr/Lucene which businesses love to run on their Java servers. Unfortunately that is not in Debian Squeeze but we do have recoll and others. The ability to search for applications and other software packages from the desktop is priceless. That we can install these for a few clicks is one of the biggest blessings of FLOSS.