in RHEL4 by default .htaccess files are disabled, and this is a good thing. Enabling .htaccess files cause an unnecessary resource load on the server, even if .htaccess files are not used. It causes httpd to look for them for every request, and is unnecessary. Resource conscious users choose to do the same thing within the httpd.conf file for the virtual domain.
As an example, this in httpd.conf and not in a .htaccess
< Directory /home/domain/domain/html/folder> AuthType Basic AuthName "By Invitation Only" AuthUserFile /home/access Require user foo Options +Indexes < /Directory>
doing so would require a httpd restart, but would be well worth it.