I'd argue that if you have to keep your brain engaged to use a computer without blowing anything up, it's most emphatically not getting out of your way. :-)
There's still plenty of brain-bending stuff in Linux these days -- a great deal more of it, in fact. Things must be a hundred times as complex, overall, as they were back then. You don't need as much knowledge to use the system at a basic level, but becoming truly expert is far more difficult than it was, simply because there's so much more to know.