back to article Millennium bugs hit stock exchange

The London Stock Exchange suffered a second day of problems yesterday as its new trading platform struggled to function again. On Tuesday the market failed to close correctly, causing confusion over closing prices for brokers and traders. Yesterday the MillenniumIT system displayed zeroes against some bid and ask prices, …


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  1. James Le Cuirot
    Dead Vulture

    "Millennium bugs"

    I know El Reg likes to have fun with their headlines but I actually thought it was the millennium bug at fault here until I got half-way through the article.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re : millennium bug

      I expect it won't be long before some ignorant twat turns up to tell me that all the code fixing and testing I did was just a big IT conspiracy to make money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters

        But it was all just a big IT conspiracy to make money.

        I know, because I was in the room when it was planned and by the time the gag order expired, it didn't seem to be worth outing them any more.

      2. maclovinz


        It WAS...How'd you KNOW!?!!?!!!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    You what!?!?!

    Since when has SUSE Linux Enterprise Server been equivalent to Microsoft .NET framework? Will El Reg be telling us that a new car based on the Internal Combustion Engine is the equivalent to a new car based on the VW Golf platform next?

    You are supposed to be an IT rag after all...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure..

      just exactly what you are trying to be detrimental about, the VW Golf, or any brand new ICE based automobile?


      Does this mean the FTSE is looking for new Linux Admins?

    2. John 62


      Seems like it's contracted the nuceoleosis, though! Maybe from kissing the MS boys.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    "The low latency system is based on... Linux"

    'nuff said.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      AAAAAAA++++++++ excellent commentator

      would down-vote again.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge


        *nix based systems are not real-time systems. Well, not if you've actually used a real-time system. Yes you can make them *look* like real-time if you throw enough horsepower at them but it's rather like watching that guy with the spinning plates ... as the number of plates rises ... he's going to start dropping them.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          FAIL man

          You can get real-time libraries for debian, etc and YES IT WILL BE A REAL TIME SYSTEM. Of course, a traditional real-time system might be something more people would be comfortable with, but not necessary.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      I'm betting on the fact that the Linux-bashing commentard is a BSDite!

  4. Tzael

    Warning: Pure speculation

    See this is what happens when you continually replace good coders with fresh uni graduates - the lessons learned don't get passed on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RBS may well be in the same boat

      Royal Bank of Scotland is about to replace a whole load of its Infrastructure engineers with guys in India. Over the next year or so 10s of thousands of man-years of experience will be made redundant in the UK and picked up in India.

      It'll be interesting to see how that experience goes for them...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        It isn't about to happen ...

        It is already fully underway. Its pathetic watching it.

        AC for obvious reasons ...

    2. Ian Michael Gumby

      Uni graduates?

      Try off shore resources!

      I was just at a local user group last night. We live and work in an industry where the software developer is de-evolving.

      'We are Devo!'

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    let's shut it down for a week or two

    see if we can't get on with our lives without worrying about money every second of the day.

    maybe people would even find the time to be happy again.

    1. The Commenter formally known as Matt

      re: let's shut it down for a week or two

      let's shut down your job for a week or two

      see if you can't get on with you live without worrying about money every second of the day.

      maybe you would even find the time to be happy again.

    2. Apocalypse Later

      Yeah, the problem is money

      People who bad-mouth money don't get what it is. You can't have lives without it. It is how resources get where they are needed and how injustices are healed. There are also a lot of sharp types who are constantly looking for a way to divert some of the flow into their own pockets- that's how we got flush toilets and mobile phones.

      You think you could be happy without thinking about money? Stop thinking about it then. Let us know how you get on.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yeah, the problem is money

        I said shut the stock exchange down for a fortnight, not ban money forever and retrospectively so as to remove all toilets too.

        Maybe you need to consider the subtle but enormous difference between what I wrote, and what you think I wrote.

      2. The Fuzzy Wotnot

        Christ's sake!

        Lighten up a bit!

        I think the original poster was making a thing called a JOKE. You see a JOKE is a funny thing people say to provoke a reaction to a situation that is becoming tense. JOKEs or HUMOUR can relieve the stress and tension and allow people to relax a little!

        Now why don't you relax a little and take the comment in the vein it was so obviously intended you muppet!

        1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

          When You Are...

          ...a venture capitalist, or an insider getting the IPO, you are buying a piece of the horse.

          The Stock Market is just the sports book or the pari-mutual window. Closing the OTB parlor will not stop the races.

      3. codemonkey

        RBE or RBOSE

        Google it...Money is not the root of all evil...of course...but the antagonistic competition for profit pits me against is only the oil...still, we can, as a species, live without either...You lot have just not worked it out day :)

        Time for the brightest minds on the planet to waken up I'd say...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Brilliant Idea

      You remind me of the guys at the G20 protests who, outside the Bank of England, had a massive banner saying

      "Abolish Money"

      I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

      1. Alan Firminger

        & , more seriously

        Capitalism isn't working

    4. Anonymous Coward

      This is perverse.

      If it was necessary a workaround would be found just as they did in this case. Critical bits would continue. 'Keep Calm and Carry on"!

      Don't even consider talking about real time systems and their relative structure and merits until you've considered something 'mission critical' like train or EMU control, nuclear station or explosive chemical reactor plant control.... That is real 'real time' control. Everything else is just control. I suppose timeliness of information in the stock exchange starts to become important were you have automatic trades happening - but that is just automated greed...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Obligatory comment:

    I seem to recall loads of people slagging off Windows, when the previous system was having problems, saying how Windows should never be used for mission critical etc. etc. etc. Now I presume that we'll see similar people saying the same about Linux...

    In reality, hows about this:

    Both OSes are perfectly capable of running high up time/high load systems provided:

    1) The software is designed and written properly

    2) The OS builds are competently designed and implemented

    3) The infrastructure is designed and implemented properly

    4) The operators are competent

    And finally as a tedious PS, to show I've not left anyone out:

    Why aren't they using mainframe?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ok... - er, no

      Trading systems require real time features - that's the "low latency" bit. .NET runs on top of the CLR, which isolates it from the critical timing facilities it needs. Java would have been another awful choice for similar reasons.

      The SUSE system will be based on the Linux kernel's real time extensions, and therefore makes much more sense as a platform.

      1. Shakje

        Ah I see

        so presumably you can point us in the direction of some metrics to prove your point?

        The JIT compiler only compiles CLR code into native code ONCE, then simply does an address lookup from then on in. It may be very, very slightly slower on the first run of stuff, but I very much doubt there's a critical difference in the timings (unless there's a difference in resolution of the timings, .NET is limited to 10ms IIRC, but I've run tests on it before and it has performed very well). If you have some figures to back it up, instead of making assumptions, I'll happily apologise and retract. I also can't speak for Java, but I would expect that it does suffer from some slowdown on real time-critical systems because that extra layer does actually exist.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Filippo Silver badge

            real time != speed

            This is a common misconception. A real time system is not about speed. It's about predictability - more specifically, being able to be 100% sure that a given task will complete in a known amount of time. Usually, this is a very short time, but that's not the point.

            .NET is almost as fast as C++ 99% of the time - except when it decides to run garbage collection, then a task that MUST complete within 10msec suddenly takes 150msec for no apparent reason, and you have a problem.

            Not that simply using C++ would fix the problem: if you run it on a non-real-time OS, then the OS might still decide to preempt you for whatever reason every now and then, and you're still in trouble.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            disengenious hyperbole

            "The new Linux/C++ platform in it's already short life has already demonstrated as many and as serious problems as the Microsoft/.NET platform did through it's life", AC

            "Due to a technical problem, that system sent out the daily automatic message to clients – stating that the closing auction was beginning – 42 seconds late"


        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Ah, you don't see

          > so presumably you can point us in the direction of some metrics to prove your point?

          It doesn't require metrics as such, just a better understanding. The issue isn't about a "slowdown" it's about a "slowdown just when you don't want it." You're not quite right about the JIT - although it does only do it's thing once, it doesn't do it all in advance. It does it when it first encounters a new code path, which can happen at arbitrary times. Same with garbage collection - as described here:

          "When a collection starts, the collector suspends all application threads..." If this happens just when you don't want it to, you get a delay and the trade happens outside the required time window. Things like memory paging also cause little hiccups. You won't notice them except in timing critical applications.

          In Java-land there's the Realtime Specification for Java modification which solves some of these problems (ahead of time JIT, controllable GC, pinned memory, etc). Maybe there's something similar in .NET-land?

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC 1153

        Trading systems don't need real time facilities, what they need is to be sized correctly to process X volume of transactions in Y secs as general load, allowing for peaks, which will also be specified. This is not realtime processing. The actual response times don't seem to have been the problem with the old or new systems, rather the availability.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not quite

        The Low Latency in this context actually refers to how quickly the exchange can receive an order and send an acknowledgement.

        Anonymous in case I'm wrong - but I dont think I am.

        1. Tom 13

          You are correct.

          And the big hedge firms can gain or lose millions on a few ms of timing. It's a big issue for stock exchanges all over the place, and the narrower they can clip those margins, the better they serve the people who trade in the largest dollar volumes.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not Real Time

        Trading systems don't need real time features - they just need to be fast enough that most of the time you can't tell the difference.

    2. Tom 13

      You get an up vote for the last tow lines,

      not the four before them.

  7. Andyroid5

    Bits bytes and b@ll@cks


    Whatever fits your agenda..

    Watch out for the incoming solar flares guys..might have to make do without money..the digital kind anyway.. :)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Anyone else...

      ... read that as ballacks?

      1. CD001

        More like

        batllatcks as I refuse to read @ as anything other than "at" :P

        1. Joe 3

          Are you sure

          Are you sure it doesn't mean "about"?

  8. Turtle

    Very enjoyable article

    Very enjoyable article. Am looking forward to reading *many* more like it in the future.

  9. James 5


    "But that was blamed on "human error", which the exchange claimed was likely sabotage"

    Just shows what happens when you don't pay the Greedy *ankers their bonuses.....

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Rise of the Machines..... ? Advanced Intelligent Robots awakening .......*

    "But that was blamed on "human error", which the exchange claimed was likely sabotage." ..... Is there any other kind of malfunction if we are not to assume that there is mechanical life too?

    *And their Stealthy TakeOver of Systems and MakeOver of Humanity is Sublimely Supplied by your Thinking that such Thinking, and therefore Life Phorm, is Preposterous and Most Unlikely even whenever IT Floats the Program in front of you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I actually got to the second paragraph before I realised this comment was from amanfromMars 1

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Alien Modus Operandi scores a Perfect 10 .... Tory Toffs Tweet of a Temporal Tottering ?

        "Wow .. I actually got to the second paragraph before I realised this comment was from amanfromMars 1" .... Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 17th February 2011 12:54 GMT

        I think that then positively proves the second paragraph rather nicely, AC. Thanks for the confirmation of the efficacy of the methodology.

        I like to think that you have been advancing, AC, rather than suggest that things are being made much easier for more general understanding and virtual comprehension, although, as is quite natural and therefore to be fully expected in the quantum communications world, is it probably a bit of one and a lot of the other, for travel towards the Singularity of Omniscience Shared for a Better Beta Operating System in Big AI Societies and SMARTer Enabled Civilizations.

  11. Chika


    Why are we suddenly blaming SuSE or Windows for this? Do we know that this is an underlying OS fault? The article doesn't say. Just because I can't get OpenOffice to run on my own main Linux system, I'm not throwing out the OS, any more than I would throw out my Windows 7 system because it doesn't run Pinnacle Studio 10. Neither is the fault of the OS (in one case it's a setting problem, in the other it's the age of the application).

    I'd want to see a lot more information about the cause and effect of this fault before I'd pass judgement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think that's the point...

      When Windows was the OS hosting the platform lots of "the usual suspects" were queuing up to blame Windows/MS. Now there are a few people blaming Linux, but really it seems to be apparent that there is nothing like enough information available to blame either. In reality it's the infrastructure, support and software that are far more likely to blame.


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