Nightshade aims to be an entirely public domain project, and is probably already so.
I started wondering about using a public domain system in 2004.
I had been inspired by the software community and ideals described by Richard Stallman. However, I have reservations about restricting what people can do with software.
I want the absolute freedom to choose how I copy, modify and distribute the software I use. The freedom to decide whether it is right or wrong to restrict what people do with the software.
I want others to have this same absolute freedom with the software I write. I value this more than the guarantee that everyone has access to all subsequent additions, which is the aim of the Free Software licenses.
Restricting what others can do with the software seems to be at odds with the nature of sharing and of giving.
Furthermore, any form of source code licencing hinders too much the sharing of small parts of the source code. This includes even the very light licences like the permissive BSD-style ones.
To this end, in 2006 I began experimenting with CMUCL. Even though CMUCL is just a Lisp compiler and run-time for Unix-like machines, it seemed like a good place to start, being largely public domain and including an Emacs-like text editor.
Through 2006 I tried successively older instances of CMUCL, looking for the easiest way to reach a completely public domain system. In the end I settled for CMUCL 18c, as released by the Internet-based project, which was the earliest release I could get running on a GNU/Linux machine.
I have transferred any code I wrote before settling for 18c onto the 18c base. I have stripped out all code that was marked as copyrighted. I have contacted the maintainers (the people who committed to the repository up to 18c). They have confirmed that everything they wrote is public domain. I have searched the logs for patches that people submitted to the maintainers. I have either reverted these patches, or I have contacted the authors and they have confirmed that the patches are public domain, or I am in the process of contacting them.
I think it is safe to say that the result, Nightshade, will be entirely public domain.
-- Matt Mundell, updated 8 August 2008.