It's possible in apache's configuration
httpd.conf to set up
.htaccess so that it is named something different, using the
AccessFileName .htaccess directive.
Is there any way to set up PHP so it looks for the
php.ini file under a different name? (I'm not trying to symlink - thanks)
For those of you who are curious about why I would want to do such a thing:
I would be looking at changing the name of the file on the development machine, not the production machine. I've already set up a different .htaccess name on my local machine and it's been great. I can rsync between remote and local and keep different copies of both files on each machine, and yet only the proper file has effect. I can then diff the two files locally, which is nice.
These files both have more to do with the web sever configuration, and less to do with the web applications. Perhaps it is important to set up different include paths, or other such variables which are server specific. That sort of thing. Ideally your development server is a duplicate of the production server, but if you work on several different remote servers, especially with shared hosting, this is the kind of thing which is really convenient.
So basically having a different config file name for these local files and the remote files just allows keeping both copies side by side.