How are people automating dev environment setup?

Not sure this is off topic, but it's somewhat related.

At work we have a big Wiki page describing in painful (and typically outdated) detail all the necessary steps to set up the dev environment. This includes steps like:

* Download and install IntelliJ
* Download this list of plugins
* Configure the plugins with these paths/settings/...
* Set this set of environment variables
* Add these directories to your path
* Download the source control client
* ...

Every time somebody does it the result is ever so slightly different, and people are losing a lot of time just working around this environmental issues. Are there any good ways to script some of this work? It's not practical to write a shell script, as people to tend to want the latest of everything, which breaks things.

Any clever ideas? Anybody checking their entire environment into source control?

What works?

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Is anybody using Chef, Puppet or something of the kind for this?

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In our company most are using Eclipse and for new dev station we need Subversion... and that's all actually. The wiki page you're describing looks for me like a remedy for loosing some time, but I don't get the problem.

Mostly, a 'guy' has to install his favorite linux OS or get Windows, install Eclipse, get access to CVS, SVN - check out project. We're using Maven so he need also to get the right settings.xml and use Eclipse project files, which we have also in VCS.

So where is the problem?

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I've just observed that it takes about a day or two for new hires to set up their development boxes. There appears to be a lot of duplication of work, and a lot of the same mistakes made. Beyond the IDE (Eclipse or IntelliJ), our environment requires a few IDE plugins (Ivy, Perforce, etc). You also need to install a Postgres database, set up your Perforce repository, install a JDK, ant, etc. Then, you have to set all the paths, ANT_HOME, JAVA_HOME, etc.

Of course, in isolation, none of these are hard or very time consuming, but it really adds up. On top of that, every developer tends to pick different paths, which makes some scripting more challenging.

It would be really sweet to have a simple scripted install to get to a running, correctly configured environment in little time...  

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Am I the only person having this problem?

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