Over in Pig land, a user was complaining about a test which used MiniAccumuloCluster that hung until the JUnit timeout was hit.
Eventually, the problem was diagnosed as a bad classpath (old version of Thrift was included and used), which was causing the TServer and Master to immediately bail out. However, the client sat indefinitely trying to connect unsuccessfully.
MAC#start should not return before we're sure that the processes are actually up and running (a very quick smoke test).
It looks like
ACCUMULO-1537 introduced a call to SetGoalState on the Master before MAC#start returned which would (I assume) fail and then throw a RTE if the Master decided to die. Including this fix in 1.5 may be sufficient to fix the underlying issue the user was seeing.