A lot of new Drupal users run into issues getting Drupal to work properly on their webhost. These problems are not Drupal problems as such, they are usually the way the webserver is configured. Complex and functional web applications like Drupal will naturally require a lot more from a web server than just hosting a static HTML site would.
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Unfortunately there is usually a knowledge gap between the Drupal installation documents and the exact environment a new user is confronted with when attempting to install and configure Drupal. For more experienced users that have a little Unix and Apache (a typical webhost setup) knowledge under their belts, bridging the gap between their webhosting environment and the general purpose Drupal installation guide is no problem. Things are more confusing for less experienced users though. The following info is intended to help newbies come to grips with the documentation and their webhosts environment.
There are a wide range of web site configuration tools (eg CPanel, Plesk, webmin etc) and near infinite number of ways a webhost could configure a webserver. What this means is that a lot of the general Drupal docs you read will have to use the lowest common denominator (ie Unix shell commands) to describe configuration steps.
Less experienced users will not fully understand what these commands do or why they should do them, and definitely won't know when to deviate from them. To make matters worse most webhosts don't even offer shell access, so the instructions need to be 'translated' to whatever control panel they offer.
The following topics will hopefully provide just enough insight into Apache and Unix that new users will be able to better understand the installation documentation and 'tune' their sites for running Drupal without too much pain. As a new user you might also gain an understanding of why most of the docs are written the way they are.