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The Almighty Buck

Trading the Markets With FOSS Software? 417

Posted by timothy
from the free-markets-deserve-free-software dept.
Robert writes "Along with many other techies, I share an interest in the world of finance (bubble-era stock options pulled me in). Unfortunately, as someone with a strong preference for GNU/Linux as my operating system of choice, I have found that software in this area seems quite sparse. For awhile I have made do with Python, R, Gnumeric, Gnucash and a telephone, along with some small utilities I have written myself. What I would like to know is: what FOSS software do you use for financial analysis, trading, system development, and testing in a Un*x environment? Are there programs you would like to see written or ported? Do any brokerages, data providers, or other services provide good support for we the few? And finally, what commercial entities do you know of that are using FOSS software in their operation?"
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Trading the Markets With FOSS Software?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:37PM (#25063827)

    is a dartboard.

    It's unfortunately not available on most distros, but building yourself isn't too hard.
    The dependencies are merely a wall, and Newton's three laws of motion.

    • by AuMatar (183847)

      Optional upgrades- poison and a blowgun, along with photos of the guy who's getting billions in free money from the goverment while your portfolio tanks.

    • by treeves (963993)
      actually, I think darts would work fine without Newton's Third Law.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Another option, for those who cannot afford their own wall, is to take a ordinary pack of playing cards, and write the word SELL! in biro on each and every one.

      Then, each day, just pick a random card and follow the instructions...

  • The NYSE runs linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phantomcircuit (938963) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:38PM (#25063833) Homepage
    SEE [slashdot.org]
  • Hmmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:38PM (#25063843)

    Lehman, Merrill, AIG, HBOS all used lots of FOSS IIRC.

    Screw automated trading; screw Ben Bernanke, screw McCain-Bush. I'm going to be foreclosed because I lost my job in the operations dept at Merrill and I can't refinance my mortgage. Why should they get a bailout? Quants screwed over my life and I want them to pay.

    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by DigitAl56K (805623) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:48PM (#25063955)

      Did you lose billions of dollars in the stock market? Don't have enough cash to cover your debts? Call the Federal Reserve hotline! You could have $85bn in your checking account by tomorrow, no collateral or responsibility required! 1-800-FED Call now and we'll start a commission to get investors off your back for free!*

      *offer applies with enrollment in triple advantage and is subject to a vote for John McCain

      • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:13PM (#25064207)

        no collateral or responsibility required!

        Ummm...please check your facts. AIG's assets are collateral and the loan is 11%+. I pay a lot less than than that on the equity lines and mortgages I have with my real estate investments. Sure, it's a bail out, but AIG's going to spend some big bucks paying it back or lose big time.

        Financial Literacy is most people's problem, thus their finances are a problem.

        • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Informative)

          by snilloc (470200) <jlcollins@hotmai l . c om> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:27PM (#25064359) Homepage
          Not only is the interest rate over 11%, but the Feds took a 79.9% equity stake in AIG. The US Taxpayer now owns 80 percent of AIG.
          • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

            by sonsonete (473442) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:41PM (#25064541) Homepage
            Not to mention that the United States is now the largest sponsor of Manchester United [manutd.com].
          • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

            by billcopc (196330)

            The US Taxpayer now owns 80 percent of AIG.

            When they start paying everyone dividends, let me know.

            The US Taxpayer doesn't even own government anymore. The real owners get tax exemptions.

          • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

            by windsurfer619 (958212) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:22PM (#25065579)

            The federal reserve isn't owned by the US taxpayers. It's a private company.

            • not really (Score:5, Informative)

              by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@hacki s h . o rg> on Friday September 19, 2008 @04:35AM (#25068295)

              It's a complicated public/private structure, and basically anything less than a book-length explanation of it oversimplifies in one way or another. It's the de facto U.S. central bank, and the main federal agency regulating banking, but also has significant private components. Its funding sources are technically ownership and fees by various private banks, but restricted in such ways that it's de facto more like government regulation and bank taxes than ownership and fees between private entities. Its board of governors are appointed by the President, and confirmed by the Senate. It's also effectively an operational arm of the U.S. Treasury for everything from tax collection to paper-money supply to treasury-bond issuance and interest payments.

              More to the point, its solvency is implicitly guaranteed by the U.S. government, much like that of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were (and those two quasi-private entities were actually de facto considerably more private than the Fed is).

      • ... that the 2 FMs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or whatever they are called) contributed a lot to Obama's campaign.
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by onefriedrice (1171917) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:50PM (#25063975)
      Why screw McCain-Bush (as if the two were related anyway)? The housing bubble, which is undoubtedly the cause of the economic downturn, came about because democrats on capital hill thought every American should be able to live the "American dream," and buy houses which they couldn't afford. They urged the major lenders to to get into sub-prime lending, which they wouldn't have done otherwise because it's terrible risk management. I believe many republicans were also in on this, so at best it's quite bipartisan.

      You can blame a lot on Bush, including the terrible budgeting since that's an executive job, but the economy, not so much. Not unless you're a tool of Nancy Pelosi and Reid. I know it's popular around here to blame everything on Bush, but get the facts. Be enlightened.
      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:15PM (#25064233)

        Well, you have some facts skewed and some misplaced causality.

        In 1999, Republicans wanted less regulation, causing investment banks to make create financial derivatives to hide risk and gain back their margins and bonuses, where normal banks could now compete.

        Second of all, remember Bush touting the "Ownership Economy" where the sub-primes had artificially elevated the percentage of citizen's who lived in homes they owned?

        Hardly sounds like a left-wing plot of the Democrats altering private banks attitude of lending via mind-control.

        Less regulation, market forces, and human animus(greed, aggression, and fear), which if totally unchecked/balanced by other concerns can spell disaster.

        • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:46PM (#25064623) Homepage Journal

          Read this 2003 NY Times article [nytimes.com] about Republican efforts to increase regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. There is plenty of blame to go around. Here's a little snippet from the article:
            Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

          ''These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''

          Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

          ''I don't see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,'' Mr. Watt said.
           
          I'm not a proponent of either party - and so I think it makes it easier to see that they are both grossly incompetent for the most part.

        • The "Ownership Economy" included private equity accounts funded by your social security payments. As you might imagine that idea would have most of America up in arms right now.

          • by bnenning (58349)

            The "Ownership Economy" included private equity accounts funded by your social security payments. As you might imagine that idea would have most of America up in arms right now.

            Short term, the stock market goes up and down. Long term, it goes up. It's silly to use short term volatility as an argument against holding equities for retirement.

      • by Mansing (42708)

        They urged the major lenders to to get into sub-prime lending, which they wouldn't have done otherwise because it's terrible risk management.

        So the major lenders are easily swayed by suggestion? Some how this doesn't sound quite right unless all the major lenders are managed by complete financial idiots. More likely, they saw lots of profits, and the White House (Mr. Clinton at the time) gave them a convenient excuse to exercise unbridled greed and usury.

        /me leaves to continue burying the gold in the yard

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The housing bubble was caused by the de-regulation of the mortgage markets that allowed mortgages to be divided up into little pieces and sold off in the stock market (mortgage-backed securities). In case you didn't know, McCain and Bush are big proponents of deregulation. You may be right (democrats want everyone to have a house and republicans want deregulation) and that's the formula that got us into this mess. As you said, a bipartisan effort made it happen. But you're not giving the republicans all
      • by tacokill (531275) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:24PM (#25064331)
        Say what you want about the origins of the problem but there is no doubt whatsoever that regulation of securities (via the SEC) has been totally and 100% completely absent during all of this.

        That, most definitely, happened on Bush's watch. The "laissez-faire" philosophy of the republicans sounds and looks a lot like Hoover right now. They have, literally, let Wall Street run itself. And you can see the end result on the front pages everyday. Whats the saying? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

        Look, I am no regulation lover but even the staunchest of conservative economists recognize free markets must have some regulation to insure a fair playing field. Under this administration -- there has been NONE.

        Do you realize that many firms were allowed to leverage up 30 to 1? Let me break down what that means for the /. crowd. Say you have a $10 watch. You go to a pawn shop for a loan and they loan you what? I'd say about $5 or so. Certainly something less than the value of the watch, right? Well, on Wall Street lately, they've been getting $300 loans based on that $10 watch.

        That is totally fucked up and should have never happened. End of story.
        • by onefriedrice (1171917) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:06PM (#25065425)
          You say that there was no SEC regulation, and that's true. Unfortunately, you have assumed that absence of regulation has been "laissez-faire" (and that it failed), but that is not true.

          What we have had has not been proper regulation, but it has not been "laissez-faire" either because the politicians have been butting in and urging the big boys on Wall Street to make money available to people who couldn't afford their houses! That was the point which I made. As you can see, that's not laissez-faire; that's government meddling with the markets as usual, but this time in a form that isn't regulation.

          So you see, we both agree with each other that there hasn't been proper regulation, but it's unfair to say that "laissez-faire" has failed when it hasn't even really been applied.

          I mean, think about it. It's no coincidence that all of these huge firms which have lasted decades upon decades and have withstood countless trials, including the Great Depression, are now all failing at the same time right now. Under a "laissez-faire" market, that would be one big coincidence.
      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Oswald (235719) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:35PM (#25064453)

        You need to inform yourself. First of all, the housing bubble was primarily fueled by errors on Wall Street, not Washington. The explosive growth of the mortgage-backed security industry created an environment that gave people lots of incentive to do really stupid things, like loan people money without requiring them to invest significantly in what they were purchasing or demonstrate that they had the money to pay back the loan. Secondly, here [businessweek.com] is just one of many available articles explaining that the really big hit has come from borrowers with good credit ratings and sufficient cash flow who simply do not wish to continue to pay the mortgage on a house that is no longer worth nearly what they paid for it. It turns out that you can default on your mortgage and all they can take is your house, not your other assets (who knew?).

        Anyway, it's certainly not "authoritative," but here [google.com] is a funny and true cartoon that does a pretty fair job of explaining how the screwed up incentives turned normal people in financial fuck-up machines.

        • Well, if you believe that it is the government's job to regulate interstate commerce, then you might agree that there should have been some regulations to ensure that such a situation could not occur. However, blaming a particular political party makes little sence, as this is the system that we have had. The government, and most experts, failed to see the consequences of the increase specialization of the financial systems that caused all parties to focus on short term gains.
          • Predicted in 99 (Score:5, Informative)

            by copponex (13876) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @10:02PM (#25065385) Homepage

            Interesting speech from Senator Dorgan when the bill, Financial Services Modernization Act, was being discussed '99. Those who don't know history...

            "I remember a couple of circumstances that existed more recently. I was not around during the bank failures of the 1930s. I was not around for the debate that persuaded a Congress to enact Glass-Steagall and a range of other protections. But I was here when, in the early 1980s, it was decided that we should expand the opportunities for savings and loans to do certain things. And they began to broker deposits and they took off. They would take a sleepy little savings and loan in some town, and they would take off like a Roman candle. Pretty soon they would have a multibillion-dollar organization, and they would decide they would use that organization to park junk bonds in. We had a savings and loan out in California that had over 50 percent of its assets in risky junk bonds.

            Let me describe the ultimate perversion, the hood ornament on stupidity. The U.S. Government owned nonperforming junk bonds in the Taj Mahal Casino. Let me say that again. The U.S. Government ended up owning nonperforming junk bonds in the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City. How did that happen? The savings and loans were able to buy junk bonds. The savings and loans went belly up. The junk bonds were not performing. And the U.S. Government ended up with those junk bonds.

            Was that a perversion? Of course it was. But it is an example of what has happened when we decide, under a term called modernization, to forget the lessons of the past, to forget there are certain things that are inherently risky, and they ought not be fused or merged with the enterprise of banking that requires the perception and, of course, the reality--but especially the perception--of safety and soundness.

            Last year, we had a failure of a firm called LTCM, Long-Term Capital Management. It was an organization run by some of the smartest people in the world, I guess, in the area of finance. They had Nobel laureates helping run this place. They had some of the smartest people on Wall Street. They put together a lot of money. They had this hedge fund, unregulated hedge fund. They had invested more than $1 trillion in derivatives in this fund--more than $1 trillion in derivatives value.

            Then, with all of the smartest folks around, and all this money, and an enormous amount of leverage, when it looked as if this firm was going to go belly up, just flat out broke, guess what happened. On a Sunday, Mr. Greenspan and the Federal Reserve Board decided to convene a meeting of corresponding banks and others who had an interest in this, saying: You have to save Long-Term Capital Management. You have to save this hedge firm. If you don't, there will be catastrophic results in the economy. The hit will be too big.

            You have this unregulated risky activity out there in the economy, and you have one firm that has $1 trillion in derivative values and enormous risk, and, with all their brains, it doesn't work. They are going to go belly up. Who bears the burden of that? The Federal Government, the Federal Reserve Board.

            We have the GAO doing an investigation to find out the circumstances of all that. I am very interested in this no-fault capitalism that exists with respect to Long-Term Capital Management. Who decides what kind of capitalism is no-fault capitalism? And when and how and is there a conflict of interest here?

            The reason I raise this point is, this will be replicated again and again and again, as long as we bring bills to the floor that talk about financial services modernization and refuse to deal with the issue of thoughtful and sensible regulation of things such as hedge funds and derivatives and as long as we bring bills to the floor that say we can connect and couple, we can actually hitch up, inherently risky enterprises with the core banking issues in this country.

            I hear about fire walls and affiliates, all these issues. I probably know less about them than some others;

        • How do you think they were ABLE to do those stupid things? Because the normal regulations were absent! And why were they absent? They were changed... in Washington!

          Really, you just made the other guy's point for him.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by bnenning (58349)

            Because the normal regulations were absent! And why were they absent? They were changed... in Washington!

            Those would be the "normal regulations" that brought us Enron, Worldcom, Global Crossing and friends? The Bush Administration has nothing to be proud of, but the concept of corporate fraud was not invented on their watch.

        • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mdfst13 (664665) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @09:28PM (#25065057)

          the housing bubble was primarily fueled by errors on Wall Street, not Washington.

          There were three important Washington errors. Washington allowed banks to loan federally insured deposit money to companies with only securities (e.g. securitized mortgages) as a collateral. This put taxpayers on the hook and led to the Bear Stearns bail out.

          The second Washington error was that even with the housing bubble, Washington left the reserve rate (how much banks have to hold of their deposits) at 15% rather than raising it. If they had raised the reserve rate, there would have been less money for loans and banks would have been more careful to whom they loaned it. As it was, banks were over capitalized and desperate to loan money.

          The third Washington error was to make it more difficult to take bankruptcy. As a result, banks were more willing to loan money for over priced houses (figuring that they could grab other assets instead).

          At the worst of the bubble, house prices were sixty percent over priced (using rental values for a comparison). House prices are still thirty percent over priced. They have more to fall before the market stabilizes. Unfortunately, most of the programs that are being launched are aimed at stabilizing house prices. This won't work until houses stop being over priced.

          What Washington should be doing is helping house prices fall. One way that they could do that would be to amend bankruptcy laws back to their previous difficulty and add the ability for judges to adjust the principal of the loan down to the current value of the house. This would allow people to sell their houses after declaring bankruptcy (rather than taking a foreclosure). Too many people can't sell their houses because they owe more than the house is worth.

      • Yeah, this will be an endless worthless flame war, but I'm sorry you are living in some kind of fantasy land man. The whole Republican Party is rotted to the core. Sure, once maybe it stood for something, now it is just the tool of those who are utterly unprincipled and for whom nothing is unthinkable. No lie is too base, no act unconscionable.

        No politician in 21st century Amerika dares to cross the line of the Corpocrats who effectively run everything. Look where the money flows my friend, the 100 richest

      • by Bytal (594494)
        The idea is correct but unfortunately, you reversed the parties. This idea has been called the "Ownership Society" and is very much a Republican ideological creation.

        The main application to our current crisis is the idea that home ownership lowers crime and increases wealth, so expanding the lending pool to less qualified owners (aka sub-prime) would also tackle crime and poverty. Unfortunately, there is a reason why these underserved population slices were underserved for so long. It's not exactly that
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Funny)

      by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak.eircom@net> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:02PM (#25064111) Homepage Journal

      Quants screwed over my life and I want them to pay.

      That's the thing. They can't!

      • by mweather (1089505)
        That's never stopped my creditors.
      • So, where do you think the money went? (Hint: once printed, money does not just disappear!)

        The corporations might not have the money in their coffers, but somebody does. THOSE are the people we should be looking at.
        • I need to start a corporation. A one-man corporation. And have it assume all responsibility for my speeding tickets, in the event that I ever get any. It'll be great. I'll drive 100mph everywhere, including past schools.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CSMatt (1175471)

      screw McCain-Bush

      No thanks.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tedu_again (980692)
      Next time buy what you can afford.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fishbowl (7759)

        >Next time buy what you can afford.

        Many did, and then saw the economy collapse around them, changing the nature of "what they can afford".

        Some of these were unable to liquidate their real estate, because to do so would require them to literally pay a mortgage on the amount of money that the property declined by.

        In my case, it has forced me to decline certain job opportunities because relocation is not an option, because of real estate values. (I would not seek, nor do I believe anyone will offer, a $45,

        • by bnenning (58349)

          In my case, it has forced me to decline certain job opportunities because relocation is not an option, because of real estate values.

          Serious and possibly stupid question: why does it matter that real estate prices have fallen, in terms of relocating? Sure your house has lost value, but the house you'd be moving to will also be cheaper, so doesn't it even out?

    • by sukotto (122876)

      Sure they do/did ... in the IT department. The traders and researchers don't use any of that though. They use Excel, or the stuff built into their Bloomberg turrets.

  • by FraterNLST (922749) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:41PM (#25063867) Homepage

    I've started looking at this too as i've picked up some stock recently, and it is a difficult proposition (given that i'm not really willing to pay for a commercial solution).

    Personally, I absolutely love the interface of Google's stock ticker - the interface is nice, the information is top notch. The problem being of course that there's way in any of the nine layers i'd trust google with my portfolio information. The big advantage of a local program in my mind is that the information you put in, even if it is only "I want to track these stocks" is kept wholly to yourself and not stored on some remote server where you have to trust the hoster not to take a peek.

    In the end i've been using the default stock program that came on the iPhone to watch the stock prices. Thats all it will do, that and a short graph history, and it uses the yahoo info instead of the google, but it's close to realtime and it's stored (I hope) on the iPhone. Course, Yahoo can still see which stocks i'm requesting, so maybe in the end it makes no difference.

    Ideal would be a device-based solution that could draw down the information, either from google/yahoo or direct from the *sx, and hold information regarding you portfolio too - but locally, so theres no worry of the monetary values being shunted across the net to the infovores.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:42PM (#25063879)

    There is none. You will get lots of recommendations to "hack it" with a hodgepodge of crap like the one you seem to be using right now, but that gets you nowhere.

    There is no quality trading/management trading software on any OS other than Windows that bears even a passing mention.

    Posting AC because people around here tend to get tender and defensive when someone dares suggest that their techno-religious experience is not absolutely perfect for everyone in the planet. Email and surfing the web? Linux is great. This? Don't waste your time and just stick with Windows.

    (cue twitter to tell me [slashdot.org] how I "hate freedom")

    • by Xugumad (39311) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:54PM (#25064703)

      Areed. I spent 3 months trying to find a good solution. If you've got buckets of money, NxCore ( http://www.nanex.net/NxCore/NxCore.htm [nanex.net] - prices start at $500/month) and any of the brokers that support a FIX API (for which you can expect to pay a hefty fee, too; Interactive Brokers (IB - http://www.interactivebrokers.com/ [interactivebrokers.com] ) for example charge a one time $500 fee, OANDA ( http://www.oanda.com/ [oanda.com] ) charge $600 for the first two months then an ongoing subscription fee if you trade $12mil/month or something).

      For those people not wanting to pour money into it, as good as you can get is Interactive Broker's Trader Workstation (TWS), and JBookTrader (http://code.google.com/p/jbooktrader/) or a custom trading platform that talks to their API. TWS is a pain that lacks automated login (for security reasons) and auto-exits every 24 hours (for... err... security reasons?), but it gets the job done. Data feed can be an issue still, though; IB offer up to 100 symbols at a time, and a basic historical data service, but some people dislike the fact they drop price ticks during busy market times (over 10 prices per second) and the historical data service is paced so you can only do a limited of number of requests (about one every ten seconds I believe).

      In short though, AC is right; use Windows, it may well be less painful. Really.

    • Did you just log this as AC to avoid flaming responses and then.... leave a link to your twitter?...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rubycodez (864176)

      Windows runs the low-end personal chickenshit version of everything. Besides Windows, trading firms run trading and trading management software on AIX, HP/UX, Solaris, OS/400, HP NonStop, Open VMS, MVS.....

  • EclipseTrader (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheNarrator (200498) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:42PM (#25063881)

    EclipseTrader [sourceforge.net] is probably the most advanced open source trading program. It interfaces with some trading platforms and intra-day data feeds. It has several hundred technical indicators. It also is very expandable and easy to write modules for (in Java). I wrote some technical analysis modules for the back-testing system and was fairly impressed with how well it worked as it is based on the very solid OSGI/Eclipse model. I'd say it actually competes fairly well with some of the proprietary trading platforms I have used, especially if you are a Java coder and want to add modules to it to aid in implementing your particular trading style.

    • Re:EclipseTrader (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:55PM (#25064035)

      Last time I tried EcT it consistently crashed on my Gentoo machine without warning, and it consumes unholy amounts of memory. I never trusted it enough to actually use it as a trading platform. For keeping an eye on your accounts and whatnot it's fine, but unless they've made heroic strides in the past five months, it's probably still unstable. And for that particular purpose I can use the excellent only Google interface.

      The community around it is also rather thin, and (IMO) actually downright hostile to recommendations and bug reports.

      Frankly, I'd rather trust being able to burst a sell order to an application that a company has spent a few millions developing and actively supports than to a "community project". So far I haven't had any problems with the former. Sure, I have to dual boot into Windows (no WINE for the one I use, at least not yet), but this is my livelyhood we're talking about.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheNarrator (200498)

        Well if you want to go with a proprietary trading tool that runs well on Linux, the "think or swim" trading platform/brokerage has a Java Client that runs on Linux.

  • by teknopurge (199509) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @07:48PM (#25063953) Homepage

    I understand that the submitter doesn't know what is out there, but if you ever have a trading account you're likely to have API access to your broker's systems. I recommend Interactive Brokers as their TWS software has a lot of different language bindings.

    In finance you don't look for "FOSS" tools, you go to your broker, get API access, and write them yourself.

  • by Bromskloss (750445) <(moc.liamg) (ta) ... erdda.yrailixua)> on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:08PM (#25064155)

    Is there anywhere a small can find a computerised market in the first place? Are there firms who allow specifies a communications protocol and lets you to trade by computer or does one have to do web scraping to automate things?

    • Specific places do offer terminals at very low prices. As to whether or not they would like it if you were running your own software instead of using their terminal, eh... Probably not.

      Here's the problem. It takes a significant amount of net capital, not to mention you have to be a brokerage and a FINRA member, etc.

      The market for "do-it-yourselfers" has to be incredibly small. Add in the fact they will be potentially high liability customers (heaven knows what sort of trading these people will do, but exper

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:09PM (#25064167)

    Interactive Brokers [interactivebrokers.com] has a Java-based
    Trader Workstation [interactivebrokers.com] ("TWS") and they explicitly support Linux. They offer almost anything you can get anywhere, including mutual funds, stocks, options, futures (commodity & financial), currency, and foreign stocks. Commissions are 10x lower than Charles Schwab if you trade often (if you don't then a minimum monthly commission kicks in).

    TWS is a large, cumbersome Java applet, but it works tolerably well on a fast machine (and there's not much alternative on Linux)

    One annoyance is that they only support jdk 1.5.0_x (not the current 1.6.x), I think because of some concurrency bugs in their code (they claim the newer Java is buggy). However TWS generally does work with the latest jdk, but they won't support it.

    IB's telephone support is sometimes rude, the opposite of "hand holding". I guess they have only a few over-worked support people to keep costs down. Also, they only provide on-line statements and never send physical mail except for annual 1099 tax forms. So, be sure your spouse/executor knows you have an IB account, because if you die there will be no monthly statements to clue them!

    In summary, IB is good, despite their warts. If you trade a few times a month or more, it's worth the hassles.

  • I don't know *any* techies who are interested in the 'world of finance'. In fact, as a group, they tend to hate it with a passion exceeded only by that of artists. But I hear there are a hell of a lot of *financiers* with an interest in the world of *tech*. The confusion is understandable. Update worldview accordingly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by X_Bones (93097)
      Just because the people you talk to appear to be inexplicably (and idiotically) uninterested in tracking their 401Ks, or watching the stock and options they got from their employer, or trying to make a buck by picking up cheap stock before we start climbing out of this hole, doesn't mean the rest of us are too. Maybe you should take your own advice and update your own worldview.
    • by Joe Snipe (224958)

      I'm not sure how flamebait gets modded insightful; you basically made the statement that techies find an entire world full of systems analysis and algorythm matching possibility completely uninteresting. Might I suggest that you should change your worldview, perhaps find more mature people to hang out with?

    • by Xugumad (39311)

      The hate tends to be caused by finance people earning insane amounts of money. It therefore doesn't seem to unlikely that some techies go "Wait, can I get that money too?", does it?

    • All of the stock market, without exception, falls under two categories: (1) dependent on inherently illogical factors, or (2) crooked. In fact it has to be one or the other, or else it would be predictable. And if it were that predictable, it would last maybe a week before it collapsed.

      In general, techies don't like either of (1) or (2). Nothing more needs to be explained.

      If some techie ever did come up with a reliable way to predict the market, it would go away very soon thereafter. It would be a tot
  • ... however, given the state of the markets right now, wouldn't it just be easier to pick up the phone, call your broker, and have him dump the stock you're looking to bail on?

    All my savings since January has been in CDs and/or savings accounts, riding this out. But then, I'm only 24 and I don't have much anyway.

  • by tacokill (531275) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:15PM (#25064241)
    Any trading platform is only as good as the data it gets.

    Not to sound like an ass but anyone who is that serious about trading needs to invest in a Bloomberg terminal [billpapa.org]. If you are just dinking around - that's one thing. But the summary seems to indicate you are looking for a "serious" trading platform. Don't waste your time with FOSS. FOSS has it's place but a trading platform is not it. Go with a proven solution.

    There are plenty of "active trader" platforms out there from a variety of brokers. Most that I have see are Java apps. I run Schwab's web-based active trading on Linux all the time but even it is a simplified version of the real thing.

    Also, one more thing to consider: I would hate to find out that my FOSS trading platform had a bug. If it's bad enough, it could be devastating and totally wipe you out. Do you really want to take on that kind of risk? This really isn't the place to be "testing" your trading platform when real dollars are at stake.

    Now....analysis is a different beast. FOSS might have a place there. I don't know but I see no reason to reinvent the wheel when there are FAR better solutions already out there. I have yet to see anything from FOSS that is compelling. And no -- MS Money/Quicken imitators are NOT what we are talking about here. Not even close.
  • I use TD Ameritrade's API (and really nice Java based real-time market tool) which has everything I need for gathering data. Beyond running some perl scripts on the data to generate some basic statistical plots for gnuplot I don't use many other tools. I found that most success in the markets isn't how well you read the past but rather how well you understand the present and can forecast reasonable risk/reward actions.

    I know I don't actually mention any FOSS solutions but as a mostly FOSS user this is h
  • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:20PM (#25064281)

    Being most of this stuff needs a network connection anyways I am sure you will find particular websites that will do the trick. Why do you want to find and download an app, run an update every time the regulations change. Most of the apps for this stuff are so old and usually try to get people to use the web anyways. Don't look for an app when the Web can do the work just as well if not better.

  • by Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:23PM (#25064313)

    That is the trading system I've spent several years working on is built entirely using Open Source tools and libraries. The system itself is not currently open, but that is a possibility we here certainly look favorably at.

    As far as actual entire free trading systems, there is JavaTraders@googlegroups.com which is a good place to start. Also check out the quickfixj.org site, you will find some things there. There is also an Eclipse plugin which provides some level of GUI.

    Frankly we didn't any of the code in any of those projects (although we do use ta-lib). But as I say, you can do a lot with ActiveMQ, any good open source RDBMS (PostgreSQL,MySQL) and your Enterprise Java framework bits of choice.

    Basically if I were you I'd pick one of the java based projects that is kicking and does roughly what you want, the way you want to do it. For simple basic trading of one or two instrument classes you can probably put together something pretty workable.

  • Thomson Reuters has a version of the BridgeFeed Toolkit (acquired by Thomson via Bridge, and then Reuters) in both C++ and Java APIs that works on Linux. The feed provides live quotes, historical data, and wire news, as well as cross-references and ticker lookup. It's not F/OSS, but it runs there. The product is very expensive.

    The Bloomberg system incorporates the Gecko rendering engine from Mozilla. That's only barely topical but I thought I'd mention it anyway. Bloomberg is also extremely expensive.

  • http://jgnash.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

    get the jar file and run java -jar jgnash.jar (use the file name)...
  • I don't know if this is what you're looking for. [thinkorswim.com]

    Think or swim was awarded "best software-based broker by Barrons" and hasd desktop, net and mobile clients.

    But I am looking for a automated trading API for charlesschwab. But if I had to liquidate my holdings and move to another brokerage, I'd do it. I'd prefer an interface in python, php or even (gasp) perl.

  • There appears to be absolutely no mention of WINE [winehq.org].

    I'm sure you've tried it, but just sayin'.

    If there is no support, perhaps go do some hacking around yourself? Or use all of those earnings and put a bounty on a Win program to be ported?

  • by wintermute42 (710554) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @08:48PM (#25064651) Homepage

    I have not seen any open source projects that you can use as a platform for building a trading system.

    I have built an intraday (within one day) trading system in Java. I'm afraid that this system is not open source either. This system runs one or more models that look for intraday trading signals. The Java software submits buy and sell orders. It is multi-threaded and runs one thread per stock. I have been very happy with the software performance. A long running "server" like this seems to benefit from Sun's HotSpot compiler. The system is web services based (e.g., it runs on Tomcat).

    I used Interactive Brokers [interactivebrokers.com] for my market data and order infrastructure. I was concerned about the quality of the Interactive Brokers tick data (the trade by trade data). Interactive Brokers consolidates their tick data feed so you get a consolidated tick about ever 250 msec. For my system this has been adequate. If you want to run on Linux or use Java there are few inexpensive options for real time data feeds. Information may way to be free, but market data is expensive.

    I have some web pages on the alternatives that I explored as platforms for a Java/Linux based trading system. These notes can be found on my web page Software for Constructing a Market Trading System [bearcave.com]

  • I'm a "buy and hold on fundamentals" kind of investor, so kymoney2 works great for me. The project could use some work in the reporting section, but it keeps track of our small portfolio just fine.

    http://kmymoney2.sourceforge.net/index-home.html [sourceforge.net]

    Getting more complicated than that is generally out of range for the average individual investor. Sourceforge lists a bunch. Maybe you can find what you are looking for there? http://sourceforge.net/search/?type_of_search=soft&words=finance [sourceforge.net]

  • Here it is.

    Save your money. The market is being heavily manipulated right now, and I seriously couldn't advise entering at this point.

  • I don't know if this is exactly what you wanted, but there's a financial analysis package called QuantLib [quantlib.org]. I'm not in the field myself, but we used it at my last stint as contractor. Unfortunately, it was a mortgage company, so the contract ended earlier than we'd originally planned. The license is the modified BSD one, so you can download and enjoy. Assuming, of course, that you understand quantitative finance, which I've discovered I don't.

  • by chemise (792048) on Thursday September 18, 2008 @11:51PM (#25066467) Homepage

    what FOSS software do you use for financial analysis, trading, system development, and testing in a Un*x environment?

    I am aware of TA-Lib [ta-lib.org], QuantLib [quantlib.org] and libraries implementing the FIX protocol [fixprotocol.org] to be used in commercial products and private Un*x trading applications.

    Sadly, most people looking for a solid FOSS trading platform will find that they need to roll up their sleeve to get something decent working.

    I have found that software in this area seems quite sparse.

    Indeed. I closely monitor the FOSS community since 1998 for a trading platform. What I observed was a lot of well intended projects, but even to these days, none did reach satisfying maturity.

    I think it relates to under estimation of the complexity. Most project starts with a lot of energy then goes idle because of unattainable short-term goals.

    A general purpose platform will not emerge until someone put coherently together existing building blocks instead of starting yet another weak trading platform from scratch.

    Example of building block is the FIX protocol. Many FIX libraries have matured. Quantlib is another solid example.

    My contribution to the whole picture is TA-Lib. It is a set of functions for people who care about technical analysis (shameless plug).

    \Mario

  • The Problem is Data (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CodeBuster (516420) on Friday September 19, 2008 @12:42AM (#25066935)
    As a software engineer, I too share some interest in financial analysis and have researched it off and on over the years with an eye towards developing some of my own analysis tools as a hobby interest. However, I have continually been discouraged by the lack of decent public market data services of the type that would be suitable for feeding to analysis software. The decent market data services all want thousands of dollars per month for their streams so that basically precludes anyone but the trading professionals working for financial services companies or high net worth individuals (HNWI), who have enough at stake to justify the $20,000 per month Bloomberg Terminal, from doing anything more than dabbling. The free services are delayed 20 minutes or more and/or have limits on queries per unit time (usually both and always the query limit) etc that make them unsuited for automated analysis (probably what the companies want, since they are trying to sell you up to their professional streaming services). I stopped after some basic analysis and test programs because I knew that without access to relatively comprehensive streaming data services, much of the value of a more complex automated analysis system would be unrealized. The professional industry is already well served by Bloomberg, Reuters, and other terminal / market data businesses so it really isn't worth trying to compete against them professionally by starting a company (the existing services have a massive head start and are already firmly entrenched and unlikely to be unseated and the company would need millions to get off the ground in any case since exchanges are not going to give a new firm any breaks on prices they charge Bloomberg and other firms for access to the live streams). In the end I learned enough about finance to do my own research and analysis manually with the assistance of some basic tools that I cobbled together for myself and that is basically all there is to be done about it unless you want to get serious and plunk down the big bucks for access to the professional data services (you have $20,000 per month to burn?).

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