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The Apache HTTP Server Reference Manual
by Apache Software Foundation
Paperback (6"x9"), 862 pages
ISBN 9781906966034
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11.4  How directives are applied

The configuration directives found in a .htaccess file are applied to the directory in which the .htaccess file is found, and to all subdirectories thereof. However, it is important to also remember that there may have been .htaccess files in directories higher up. Directives are applied in the order that they are found. Therefore, a .htaccess file in a particular directory may override directives found in .htaccess files found higher up in the directory tree. And those, in turn, may have overridden directives found yet higher up, or in the main server configuration file itself.


In the directory /www/htdocs/example1 we have a .htaccess file containing the following:

Options +ExecCGI

(Note: you must have "AllowOverride Options" in effect to permit the use of the "Options" directive in .htaccess files.)

In the directory /www/htdocs/example1/example2 we have a .htaccess file containing:

Options Includes

Because of this second .htaccess file, in the directory /www/htdocs/example1/example2, CGI execution is not permitted, as only Options Includes is in effect, which completely overrides any earlier setting that may have been in place.

11.4.1  Merging of .htaccess with the main configuration files

As discussed in the documentation on Configuration Sections (p. 110), .htaccess files can override the <Directory> sections for the corresponding directory, but will be overriden by other types of configuration sections from the main configuration files. This fact can be used to enforce certain configurations, even in the presence of a liberal AllowOverride setting. For example, to prevent script execution while allowing anything else to be set in .htaccess you can use:

<Directory />

Allowoverride All


<Location />

Options +IncludesNoExec -ExecCGI


ISBN 9781906966034The Apache HTTP Server Reference ManualSee the print edition