Canonical founder and CEO Mark Shuttleworth is one of the most prominent people in open source software.\nUbuntu, the GNU\/Linux-based operating system that he helped birth in 2004 is now one of the best-known open source projects in the world, accounting for a vast proportion of the Linux VMs in the public cloud and huge numbers of connected devices.\nHe sat down with Network World Senior Writer Jon Gold to talk about the future of IoT and the evolution of technology.\nNW: One thing that\u2019s interesting about IoT is that new tech is coming from companies that you wouldn\u2019t consider traditional IT vendors.\nMS: The thing I personally love about IoT is that it\u2019s genuine entrepreneurship \u2013 but the thing about IoT is that literally anybody that finds themselves in a particular situation is able to see how taking a small piece of electronics and some software in a particular context to make something better. So that makes it just a lot of fun from an entrepreneurial point of view.\nNW: What are the most noteworthy pieces of entrepreneurship you\u2019ve seen around IoT?\nMS: Thermal pumping of yogurt.\nNW: Thermal pumping of yogurt.\nMS: Yeah, it\u2019s not as sleazy as it sounds. If you\u2019ve ever seen yogurt, it has a little film of water on top of it \u2013 the yogurt\u2019s fine, it\u2019s just that temperature variations in transit or wherever have essentially squeezed the water out of the jelly. And the net effect is yogurt that people are more inclined to think has turned, and it gets wasted.\nIf you imagine an economy with 300 million people eating yogurt, it turns into an enormous amount of waste and, therefore, a nice big opportunity for someone who can put the right device in the right place at the right time and line up all the pieces.\n(Ed. \u2013 the company Shuttleworth is referring to is IMS-Evolve, and there are further details available from IoT-Now here.)\nNW: I have to be honest, this is not what I imagined we were going to talk about.\nMS: Exactly! For me, it\u2019s just an example of the contrast with the other half of the house \u2013 in the cloud space, we\u2019re working with Google, Amazon, Netflix, Uber \u2013 a lot of the guys who are thinking of global operations. But that\u2019s completely abstract \u2013 it\u2019s hundreds of thousands of VMs running containers for fractions of a second\u2026\nNW: Sort of a ghost data center.\nMS: Exactly so. As a result, it\u2019s the domain of a very few people, who compete ferociously with the idea that, in the back of their minds, the winner takes all. And that pays the bills for us. \u2026 but in IoT, what I love about it is that it\u2019s literally real people looking at a real problem and thinking how, like, Raspberry Pi plus Ubuntu plus an app makes a huge difference. They\u2019re not competing with Google, they\u2019re not waking up every day thinking, \u201cHow do I get a billion dollars out of Silicon Valley?\u201d But it\u2019s real, and it\u2019s real money, too \u2013 millionaires will be minted this way, and they\u2019ll deserve it, and their stories are interesting.\nNW: Any particular verticals that are more likely than others to mint those millionaires?\nMS: Just follow your own day, is what I would say \u2013 you wake up at home and have a bunch of transport, have a bunch of communications, you work in an office, you socialize in another kind of structure somebody else is building, you move through public spaces, and end up back at home. Every phase of that, whether it\u2019s retail or entertainment or commercial or personal, you\u2019re surrounded by the opportunity to make things smarter, whether that\u2019s smarter control over lighting and energy or security access control, or whatever.\nNW: Is this where you saw Ubuntu even five years ago?\nMS: So I\u2019m an investor, and I got very lucky when I was young, with security on the Internet. But if you look at everything I\u2019ve done, you look at the world and say, \u201cWhat are the deep things that will take five or 10 years to play out?\u201d Because if you\u2019re reading about something that\u2019s, right now, imminent and hot, it\u2019s generalized enough that the winners and losers are probably already at the table.\nSo you kind of have to spot stuff before it\u2019s mainstream news, and be willing to run with that stuff, right or wrong, for four or five years or a decade. What was clear to me was that the open source approach to technology would be much more than hobbyists. It would really come to define, first, the Rebels, and then the Galactic Empire.\nNW: (Quietly assumes that Shuttleworth just saw the new trailer for "Last Jedi")\nThere was a time when open source was really about independent experts who were getting things right on their own time. But now, Microsoft, Google, Amazon are falling over themselves to give away as much open source on machine learning \u2013 this is the crown jewels, effectively, and they\u2019re trying to give it away as open source. It\u2019s the industrialization of that prospect.\nNW: That would have been tough to predict a few years ago.\nMS: I would say it was a fairly cogent bet that if I could focus on professionalizing free software and finding economics that didn\u2019t interfere with the flow of it being free, then that would be [a winner.] I did not predict cloud, but we were in the right place at the right time.\nNW: Canonical is a software company, but it\u2019s got a prominent role in IoT thanks to Ubuntu Core \u2013 are you guys going to need additional hardware expertise to keep up?\nMS: The trend is to standardize the modules. So if you think about the original PC, what really made it was that it\u2019s a form factor where you had the expectation that you could plug into it. That\u2019s really what differentiated the PC from other personal computers that had come before. You could take the lid off the box, and there was a bus there and you could plug something into it. It didn\u2019t have to be designed by the same people that designed the box.\nNow it\u2019s kind of going the other way \u2013 the PC is the thing that you plug in. If you imagine people designing a robot today, they\u2019ll say \u201chere\u2019s the size and space where the brain is going to go.\u201d And they don\u2019t necessarily know in advance what kind of brain it\u2019s going to be, and if they can say to the developers, \u201cit\u2019s going to be ARM, it\u2019s going to be x86, but it\u2019s going to be Ubuntu,\u201d the developers can start creating and testing software in the cloud. Independently, industrial designers can start figuring out weight and balance and design and packaging and all the other things they need to figure out. Those things only need to come together late in the process if you have standardized module.\nNW: That\u2019s happening on the software end, too, right? Containerization and so on?\nMS: We know that standardization and reusability dramatically influence economics \u2013 the cost of something that\u2019s hand-built or custom-designed, compared to something that\u2019s off the peg is massively, massively different.\nNW: It\u2019s like industrialization all over again.\nMS: There\u2019s no common form factor for robots, drones, vehicles, cameras or anything, so this means highly fragmented industrial design and logistics and so on supporting them, but there\u2019s no reason why the core can\u2019t be standardized.\nNW: What about networking standards? There\u2019s a lack of, well, standardization there.\nMS: That just doesn\u2019t seem, to me, to be the big fight to get too stressed about. Say you are an institution managing a building \u2013 now, very reasonably, you\u2019d want to bring devices into that building from different manufacturers. And you\u2019ve gotta worry about everything \u2013 not just escalators, but escalators and lights and HVAC, and there\u2019s nobody who does all of that. There\u2019s no scenario where someone can just say \u201cthis is a Siemens building.\u201d\nThat means you\u2019re going to have to figure out how to tell whether Heartbleed is fixed across all these different devices, and that\u2019s where I think we can help \u2013 if they\u2019re all running Ubuntu, we can give you a common lens to look at them, and at least where there are commonalities, you can manage them as a common story. And that\u2019s very real! A fleet of trucks, a fleet of drones, Wi-Fi access points and so on \u2013 they all need to get fixed for those Wi-Fi patches.