it's a definable field in the server config; as has been seen from
the sydney uni example, the server admin can make it
anything (possibly even "" - which would be interesting)
basically, http servers can catch and interpret aliases for directories, and
one common alias is that ~user will look in "user's" home directory,
plus whatever the admin decides is an appropriate path to www files.
it would also be possible to alias /user/ with /usr/home/user/public/html/
in the server config, to make it appear as if your own home page under the
top level directory for the http server...
so basically, the answer to ryan's questions are:
o you don't put /public_html/ in your path because it's already been
added by default
o the /public_html/ was the default directory for NCSA httpd, and has
been widely adopted as a "standard", but it can be set to whatever
takes the admin's fancy
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