troubleshooting Question

Mac OSX 10.4 is non-responsive. What to do?

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tmonteitFlag for Afghanistan asked on
Mac OS X
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I have a mac mini running OSX 10.4 running as a file server.  It is misbehaving, I don't know what's going on here.

1.  I went to my machine and tried to move to copy a file from directory A to directory B.  I received an error message that the file name was too long.  

2.  Strange, It doesn't seem too long??  I then opened up a terminal window.
> cd ~/data/dirA
> cp myFile ~/Desktop
I get an error message  "cp unkown parameters"

3.  I decide to rename the filename to something shorter.  Just to keep a record of the origonal file name, I do the following.
> ls > dir_list.txt
I get an error message  "ls unkown parameters"

4.  Something strange is going on.  I decide to reboot the system.   Using the Finder Menu, I select:  <Apple> <restart>  
The system restarts.  it takes forever to get past the white screen with the apple to with the spinning circle.  
20 minutes later, it now has a blue screen with a spinning circle.    No icons.  it appears stuck in a loop.

I have no idea what's going on.  Or how to figure out what's going on.  I fear of loosing data if I interrupt and do a hard restart.

Experts please advise!
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