Google's Chromium OS
I downloaded a bootable ISO of the Google Chromium OS release candidate. Then, fired it up in VMware Player and took a look around. It appears to be based on OpenSUSE Linux 11.4. SUSE was one of the distributions I cut my teeth on in the Linux world. I always appreciated the 9 pound manual of documentation that came with it. Very helpful for beginners and a good reference to their tools.
I might have made a mistake when setting up the virtual machine because it complained of low memory right after booting. This could also explain the slow performance I experienced. The desktop itself is clean and appears to be optimized to run the Chrome web browser. There was a local word processing application, but I didn't get far enough to test it out, it was just too slow. I could not find a download link at Google, but I found one at a .eu domain. Maybe it was a pirated or tampered version. I am going to postpone further research until I am sure I have a good distribution.
Updated: Turns out Google doesn't provide an image or download of the OS itself, only the source code and compilation instructions. Also, the OS is based on Ubuntu, despite the build I got from Europe based on SUSE. ZD Net suggested that the running OS would be slow so I maybe I am not missing much at this stage of development. I don't want to pay for a Chromebook just to run Chrome. Another reason to keep this on hold for now.