That sounds spot-on to me. You're probably connecting via SMB or CIFS (the "Windows-native" protocols) when you see the truncated names. You're probably connecting via AppleTalk and/or AFP (the "Apple-native" protocols) when you see full-length names.
Yes, you can connect a Mac to a server in a number of different ways: SMB, FTP, AFP, AppleTalk, NFS, WebDAV, etc. Each protocol does something different in terms of communication and supports different transport mechanisms, which is why sometimes you see truncated file names and sometimes you don't.
If you're using OS X, then you can specify which protocol to use when connecting. Press Command-K in the Finder (or select Go > Connect to Server...), and then enter the server's IP address or name prefixed by the protocol connection scheme you wish to use. For example, if you wanted to connect to the server via AFP and the server's IP address is 192.168.0.1, then you would type:
in the "Connect to Server" window, or simply:Code:afp://192.168.0.1(because AFP is the "assumed" protocol in the "Connect to Server" window.Code:192.168.0.1
If you wanted to connect via SMB, then you would type:
Off-topic, but it's gotta be a PITA to press shift-8 before each sentence, no? What's up with the asterisks? Am I supposed to read each sentence as if it were a footnote?Code:smb://192.168.0.1