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1.5. What Happens at the Server End?

We assume that the server is well set up and running Apache. What does Apache do? In the simplest terms, it gets a URL from the Internet, turns it into a filename, and sends the file (or its output)[12] back down the Internet. That's all it does, and that's all this book is about!

[12]Usually. We'll see later that some URLs may refer to information generated completely within Apache.

Three main cases arise:

All the cases boil down to an Apache with an incoming connection. Remember our first statement in this section, namely, that the object of the whole exercise is to resolve the incoming request into a filename, a script, or some data generated internally on the fly. Apache thus first determines which IP address and port number were used by asking the operating system where the connection is connecting to. Apache then uses the IP address, port number -- and the Host header in HTTP/1.1 -- to decide which virtual host is the target of this request. The virtual host then looks at the path, which was handed to it in the request, and reads that against its configuration to decide on the appropriate response, which it then returns.

Most of this book is about the possible appropriate responses and how Apache decides which one to use.

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