Thanks for the focus on FSF and GNU
Thanks for helping to shine a light on the GNU project and the Free Software Foundation... I hope there are many more stories on this topic going forward. These high priority projects are important to ensure that people have the a free software desktop option which serves a majority of the needs and goals people have for their computer, and it's good to have a debate regarding whether or not certain items should really be on this list (and if others should be added). Just having this discussion increases the visibility of this important organization and its goals, which is nothing but positive in my book. More people need to be aware of these ideas and the work that is being done to ensure free software remains so and is being improved constantly... and that they can help.
My main interest at the moment is with GNU/Hurd. As mentioned previously, this project is very interesting in that it has the lofty goal of being based on a microkernel architecture, while at the same time being microkernel agnostic where possible. There have been several microkernels which have been the basis of GNU/Hurd over the years, and the work with each of them has served to increase the experience and knowledge base for the GNU developers while ensuring that the Hurd benefits from the best implementations in whatever way possible. The gnumach microkernel is the one which has ended up having the most adoption and focus up to this point, but work continues with other microkernels to some extent. There are definite issues with gnumach, but these issues aren't considered to be an insurmountable hurdle for the Hurd project itself... in fact the Hurd will see it's first major release on the upcoming Debian version with the gnumach microkernel (see also ArchHurd for another quickly developing Hurd-based distribution).
The Hurd promises many interesting capabilities which are just not possible with a monolithic kernel design, and these possibilities are evident to any user of the system. Imagine navigating various types of remote file systems, databases, code repositories, etc. all as if they were just files on your local system? Using tar, cp, vi/emacs, on these files in the same way as you do with local files is possible due to the user-space Hurd translators which serve as wrappers which make this possible.
Another interesting possibility is that various parts of the Hurd can be written in other programming languages, which has both benefits and drawbacks. But this possibility makes it that much easier for the various code bases to be used for features of the operating system which weren't possible with other systems.
One of the roadblocks many new architectures face to adoption is the lack of driver support. With the Hurd this will be much less of a problem due to the fact that many Linux drivers will eventually work without modification and without a slowdown in performance. Currently most Linux 2.0 drivers work, and DDE is functioning to some extent at this time (which opens the possibility for Linux 2.6+ drivers to work in the same way).
The last point is the benefit of the Linux kernel development to the Hurd. Due to license compatibility, some of the work that has gone into the Linux kernel can be re-used in the Hurd where it makes sense. This is one of the benefits of GPL code, and also one of the benefits of supporting the GNU project and the Free Software Foundation. Unlike many other projects based on other licenses, the GPL does the most to guarantee the code developers produce not only is free to use in whatever way desire, but that it remains so for current as well as future users. This is the area where I see people have the most confusion when it comes to the differences between various licenses, as well as between free software and open source.