> $cmd="mysqldump ...... > somefile.sql";
> if( !fopen("somefile.sql","r") ) { print error message };
> $cmd is correct... I've copy-pasted it tons of times in the command shell

Were you the "nobody" user when you did that?  It really doesn't count for
much if you weren't, cuz PHP runs as "nobody" -- or similar depending on
User directive in httpd.conf

Also, that user has a different environment than you -- So the $PATH
variable that might have mysqldump in it for you, isn't there for them.

> and it worked... created the 'somefile.sql' and all. But none of the
> functions (exec, system..) works. When I use system it outputs me some
> header for mysqldump and that's all...

What, if any, error output and errorcode did you get from the optional
variables to exec?

exec($cmd, $output, $errorcode);
echo implode("<BR>\n", $output);
echo "errorcode is $errorcode<BR>\n";

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