The best setting needs to be figured out for every camera model (and, ideally, for every kind of illumination, but that's not realistic). One should remember, that the neutral contrast and saturation settings are not the lowest values but zero. I find it strange, that some are using the minimum contrast and saturation setting.
Regarding curves: I know of no camera, which allows for loading a gamma curve. The curve one can load is a substitute for the standard contrast curve, or S-curve; a "linear curve" eliminates that transformation, i.e. it moves closer to the raw histograms.
However, the loadable curve can be used to compensate for the gamma curve. I created a custom curve for my 40D, resembling the inverse gamma curve. Note, that the curve never affects clipping, but it does affect the distribution of the intensities (the appearance of the histograms). The closer the displayed histogram resembles the raw histogram, the better one can judge the "exposure lattitude between the currect exposure and clipping.
Another important issue is the color space. This has to be tested with every camera model. I found, that my Canon 40D has to go with sRGB, otherwise the displayed histograms show lower exposure than the raw data itself. One could say it is logical, for AdobeRGB "compresses" the pixel values more, but it is not so simple. I suggest trying it out.