I recently ran into this bug (or maybe just „weird, undocumented behavior“) of mc(1) when setting it up on FreeBSD. Even after saving the „Verbose operation“ option in the „Configuration“ menu, it was always disabled after the next startup of mc. I could confirm that verbose=true got set in the $HOME/.config/mc/ini file (probably $HOME/.mc/ini on Linux), but was ignored (or reset) on startup.
Now, „Verbose operation“ makes all those nice progress bar windows pop up, and without it there’s no point in using mc! So what’s going on here? Apparently, mc checks your terminal’s reaction speed in terms of „baud“, like it’s 1997 and we’re running stuff on serial cables or something. If mc finds that your terminal is too slow, you don’t get any progress bars (awww), because your terminal apparently can’t handle it.
Now, under some circumstances, some terminals don’t report a proper baud speed – maybe because it’s not 1997, and we’re not running stuff on serial cables. In these cases, the function tty_baudrate() returns -1, which I guess should alert programs that the value is useless. But Midnight Commanders just asserts that this value is smaller than 9600 (duh!) and always sets verbose=FALSE; on startup, because your serial cable is too thin. Gotcha!
The bug has been known and ignored for 6 years (mc Trac ticket #2452), but I can confirm that the patch proposed in comment #15 does the trick. I’ve submitted it to the maintainer of the mc port in FreeBSD, and maybe you want to go and bug mc people to fix it or get your distro to incorporate the patch – because who on earth would want to to use Midnight Commander without those progress bars, am I right?!