MySQL 5.1.26 and 5.1.28 (newer versions may also do this) seem to discontinue output during InnoDB recovery, you may see the following with no additional output for 30-40 minutes:
081105 20:06:29 mysqld_safe Starting mysqld daemon with databases from /mysecretdata/mysql
Followed by the usual warning:
InnoDB: Log scan progressed past the checkpoint lsn 57 793368317
081105 20:06:31 InnoDB: Database was not shut down normally!
InnoDB: Starting crash recovery.
Notice the timestamp is right after the first message but did not appear in the log until 30 minutes later. The output appears to be buffered somewhere and not written to the log. So if you are wondering why you arn’t seeing your InnoDB recovery progress, this could be the reason.