I setup a decent number of Wordpress installations clients/friends. There are a number of plugins that I use on every instance. Is there a good way to automatically have these plugins installed on every instance? Does simply copying the plugins folder to a new installation do the job?
I recently started using the Plugin Central plugin for this and it works like a charm. I just install Plugin Central with every initial WP install, keep a text file where all of the direct links to my favorite plugin zip downloads are listed, and paste these links into Plugin Central. My 16 favorite plugins are then downloaded and activated within seconds:
As of WordPress 3.5, there is now an option to install plugins that you have 'favourited' on the wordpress.org plugin repo.
Click the 'Favorites' link on the Install Plugins screen, and enter your wordpress.org username, then click 'Get Favorites'.
You will be presented with a list of your favourite plugins on wordpress.org, which you can then install.
I haven't used it yet, but I just recently read about this plugin, WP Quick Deploy. It appears to provide the functionality you're looking for.
You might want to look at the 'Improved Plugin Installation' plugin;
Allows for plugin installation simply by submitting the wordpress plugin name or URL. This means you can install all your favorite wordpress plugins in one go!
Hope this helps.
I just created a simple tool for automatically downloading and activating plugins during installation. http://wpkgr.com/
I just finished creating it and little testing has been done. So, it may have bugs.
First of all, yes, you need to copy the physical files then you ACTIVATE them via this piece of code, see: How To Activate Plugins via Code?
This is not exactly for plugins, but for all initialized actions after you installed WordPress. MikeSchinkel has written a great script with very details in explanation.
We created an open source script for this purpose, you can find it here http://buckhill.github.io/linux-package-installer-for-wordpress
We wrote an article on how to use it here: https://www.buckhill.co.uk/blog/how-to-automatically-install-wordpress-plus-plugins/6
If you want to contribute to the project, please go ahead :)