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Why is it that some of the directives in ssl configuration are placed withing a virtual host section? if one decides to just support one website in a server, couldn't all SSL configuration just be placed in the global server context?

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Sure, if you want every port that Apache listens on to be running SSL, then SSLEngine On, etc. in the server context makes sense.

For the most part, people want to have a non-encrypted listener (if only to redirect to the encrypted one), so most example you see take that into account and place the config in the virtual host context.

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