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I realize this has been rehashed a bit, but, I have a new and strange problem.
First, Yast did not configure httpd.conf correctly. You can enable mod_user in Yast, but it doesn't insert the correct entry into httpd.conf (or any of the other .conf files) despite saying that it had. So, I manually edited httpd.conf and added the line
# enable user directory hosting
# UserDir: The name of the directory that is appended onto a user's home
# directory if a ~user request is received.
# not every user's directory should be visible:
UserDir disabled root
# to enable UserDir only for a certain set of users, use this instead:
#UserDir enabled user1 user2
# the UserDir directive is actually used inside the virtual hosts, to
# have more control
Adding these things and setting the correct permissions on my public_html directory solved my problems the first time. Then I decided to try Yast again (because editing the .conf files manually messes up the yast hash). So, I re-installed Apache2 with all the defaults I had originally started with. Once again, yast failed to do the job, so I decided to restore everything to what I just explained. Now, once again, the home/*/public_html directories are not served, resulting in a 404 error.