Well ... that makes sense!
So I created a shell script that echos out the path, used exec() to call it from a web-accessible PHP. The value returned is the default ... the additional path information I've defined isn't showing up.
That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm trying to set up a page that will process fonts using ttf2ufm (the modified version of ttf2pt1 that supports unicode). So the user supplies a font, I use PHP exec() to call the ttf2ufm binary and process the font.
Considering the possibility of a path problem and the results outlined above, I created a shell script that defines the paths then executes the binary. I even did a cursory look through the code for anything that appeared to be an environment variable reference and added that to the shell script. Even with all this I'm still not having any luck.
The output should be an AFM file. I know it's at least running because the AFM is created, it just has no content.