> I believe the easiest approach to handling the GFDL issue, would be
> having the GNU project consider packaging the documentation in separate
> tarballs and Debian simply leaving those packages in 'non-free'.
I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but this is what is currently done (except that the splitting is done by Debian, not by GNU). Emacs, gcc and such already have separate packages in non-free for the non-free documentation.
> If the only packages in 'non-free' would be GFDL licensed documentation
> (and possibly the IETF documents or similar 'non-functional' works), I
> could imagine advertising the 'non-free' archive would be a non-issue for
> the FSF.
> The issue, which any combined effort should focus on, is providing free
> replacements of sufficient quality in 'main' for proprietary software
> packages in 'non-free'. And in the context of the kernel (i.e. the LWN
> audience) that would include finding a way to viably replace proprietary
> firmware, which seems to be a task, which for very obvious reasons seems
> infeasible... but then again, lots of seemingly infeasible feats have
> already been accomplished in the Free Software and Open Source movements.
I'm not sure how many actually used software packages non-free contains these days, at least I currently use it only for firmware and GNU documentation. I additionally use contrib for some games (Doom variants, mainly).
I don't think most of contrib is considered a problem by the FSF due to the way they consider programs and data separate concerns (this excludes the "installer for a non-free program" type packages in contrib, such as the Adobe flash plugin etc).