string system(string command, int [return_var]);
System() is just like the C version of the function in that it executes the given command and outputs the result. If a variable is provided as the second argument, then the return status code of the executed command will be written to this variable.
Note, that if you are going to allow data coming from user input to be passed to this function, then you should be using the EscapeShellCmd() function to make sure that users cannot trick the system into executing arbitrary commands.
The System() call also tries to automatically flush the web server's output buffer after each line of output if PHP is running as a server module.
If you need to execute a command and have all the data from the command passed directly back without any interference, use the PassThru() function. See also the exec() and popen() functions.