Under the deal, Red Flag Linux, will bundle DB2 Express with its software for small and medium-sized businesses, the companies said Wednesday.
The agreement comes not long after database leader and IBM rival Oracle said it will.
"Given the size of China's economy and the related growth of information technology infrastructure, Red Flag could become the most widely deployed Linux distribution," said Stacey Quandt, an independent Linux analyst. "There are multiple distributions in China, but Red Flag has an advantage in being blessed by the Chinese government."
IBM has other competitors besides Oracle vying for Red Flag's attention.
Last week,to market and develop Linux in China, with HP supporting Red Flag Server 4 software on its Xeon-based ProLiant servers and Itanium-based Integrity servers.
There are several regional Linux specialists, such as in Brazil and Turbolinux in Japan, but two companies are seeking a global presence. Leading Linux seller Red Hat and No. 2 both have extensive support and marketing relationships with most of the top server makers.
Microsoft, which has criticized China for not doing enough to curb software piracy, is trying to, but Linux has the advantage that its core components are available for free. Microsoft also is trying to allay concerns by letting Chinese officials , a move that acknowledges one advantage of Linux and its open-source development process.