I think we all agree to say that google.com provides more features than this (let's call it googleMint for simplicity). The three main features that are lacking in googleMint are:
- The ability to change from web results to images result.
- The cached links.
- The ability to access your google account.
Now, why are these features not present in googleMint, for the simple reason that Google doesn't want custom google search engines (that's how it's called) to have these features. It's possible, I could change a simple parameter in the XML and show them.. but it would go against the agreement we have with Google. Will they support these features in Adsense for Search or in custom search engines in the future? They don't want to comment on this.
For the first problem I added a second search engine dedicated to images (you can see 2 google search engines, one for Web and one for Images).
Now, why do we harm the user experience? (It's true, we do a bit by doing this). Because we found a way to finance ourselves and that could even save us selling support. The ideal situation for Linux Mint would be to grow as a company with hired full-time staff working ONLY on the distribution itself, not on parallel lucrative activities such as support. The start page generates about $1,000/month, this search engine could generate between 2 to 40 times more income, making it possible for us to grow into a small size company and start hiring to achieve things we only ever dreamed off.
So you're right, it would be nice to see cached links and to have a link to our google account from the result page but if that's the price to pay to see Mint go from something that is developed in some volunteer's past-time to a full distribution backed by a team of full-time employed developers, it's definitely worth the little annoyance.
Not to mention that the bigger we get the better we can negotiate with Google and eventually push these features back in. For information that same top right corner wasn't using the default Google engine before.. it was using a custom Firefox one. Mozilla just happened to have a deal with Google that we're not in a position to get.
If you really want to default back to the default google engine there are many ways to do that but it would be a pity since this is the best way you can financially contribute to Mint. More than the donations, more than the ads on the website, more than the sponsors, more than the sales, more than anything this is the biggest source of income for the distribution and by simply using your desktop, and OK by ignoring the fact that the results page isn't as full-featured as the one on google.com, you're participating in making Mint grow.
Mint is currently registering itself as a business in the Republic of Ireland and I'll soon be able to show you a detailed breakdown of our financial situation. We are harming the user experience, it is motivated by financial reasons but do see the big picture, this is extremely positive for the distribution and it's going to be a major key for success which will let us get to the next level and start having people working full-time on Mint.