IBM has unveiled several initiatives to expand Linux adoption, including an alliance with Canonical (the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu), Red Hat and Novell to create “Microsoft-free” PCs and drive sales of desktop Linux through local hardware providers.

According to IBM’s Linux director, Inna Kuznetsova, people tend to use the software that comes pre-loaded on the PCs they buy – which has given Microsoft an obvious advantage. Thus, as part of the plan to counter this, IBM will ship preloaded versions of Lotus Notes, Lotus Symphony and Lotus Sametime with each of the participating Linux distributions.

No deals with specific PC makers have been announced, but the company claims such products will be available sometime in 2009 and it is currently discussing possible agreements with several vendors. IBM also hopes to expand Linux adoption among small and mid-size businesses as well as on the enterprise level. You can read more about these initiatives here.