After spending a few hours searching around on some old backups I found the source to my php module which does smb authentication.
I cleaned it up and built it into a RH72 compatible rpm. Now all the pesky students can log in and check their entries in the apache error log and fix their cgi assignments.
While I was at it, I set up a local php mirror so I can have instant access to the pretty PHP manual. I guess I'll let the students look at it too :)
I also got a tip off about the symlink problem in smbfs. I am off to check that out now