I'm not sure about the first case, but the second should definitely work. In most cases wrong configuration is the cause, but it's extremely hard to tell unless I see it.
There is a known bug with the current version, which affects a very small percentage of installations (database tables running onthe MyIsam engine). To make sure it's not that, just open up the Fulltext search Settings submenu, and save the options without changing anything there. If there are no options to save on that page, just a message saying “Fulltext search not available ….”, then it's definitely not that.
If you could provide temporary admin and ftp access to your staging or test environment would help a lot.Best,
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