Okay, so here's what I did:

We literally cloned our prod system to vmware (via storage manager), for
an accurate test lab.

I setup a new SLES10 server in the test lab (vmware) and put UserApp
3.5.1 on it

Life is good, had to apply a userapp patch for 3.5.1 to fix the
anonymous/public searches returning blank/zero results.

Get everything setup just fine and it works.

I then snapshot the vmware machine and copy that to production network

Fire up the new VM (after creating the driver and all that).

Everything works fine EXCEPT for the anonymous search

It returns zero results

I'm at a loss as to why, since the environments are the same, and it's
the SAME VM from test lab to production.

Any ideas before I just have to start from scratch (I documented
everything, but it's very time consuming to reinstall and setup userapp
and re-patch it)?

everything else works fine (org chart, editing users, "My Profile" etc.)