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Do you have a fresh Joomla installation? If yes then you should set the permission of these folders to be writable by your web server before you can install any Joomla extension. You can see the list of folders that need to be writable from this page: System > System Information > Directory Permissions, make sure the status of all these folders are writable.

  • administrator/components
  • administrator/language
  • administrator/language/bg-BG
  • administrator/language/da-DK
  • administrator/language/nl-NL
  • administrator/language/ja-JP
  • administrator/language/hr-HR
  • administrator/language/en-GB
  • administrator/language/es-ES
  • administrator/language/el-GR
  • administrator/language/pt-BR
  • administrator/language/de-DE
  • administrator/language/overrides
  • administrator/language/pl-PL
  • administrator/language/ru-RU
  • administrator/language/fr-FR
  • administrator/language/it-IT
  • administrator/manifests/files
  • administrator/manifests/packages
  • administrator/manifests/libraries
  • administrator/modules
  • administrator/templates
  • components
  • images
  • images/jsn_is_thumbs
  • images/content
  • images/headers
  • images/stories
  • images/sampledata
  • images/extensions
  • images/cliparts
  • images/banners
  • language
  • language/en-GB
  • language/overrides
  • libraries
  • media
  • modules
  • plugins
  • plugins/jsnimageshow
  • plugins/search
  • plugins/content
  • plugins/extension
  • plugins/system
  • plugins/editors
  • plugins/jsnpoweradmin
  • plugins/editors-xtd
  • plugins/quickicon
  • plugins/user
  • plugins/twofactorauth
  • plugins/authentication
  • plugins/captcha
  • plugins/finder
  • templates
  • configuration.php
  • cache
  • administrator/cache
  • logs
  • tmp

Note: this folders are based on Joomla 3.3.3

and here is the CHMOD command to set the permission of these folders to be writable

chmod 777 administrator/components	
chmod 777 administrator/language	
chmod 777 administrator/language/bg-BG	
chmod 777 administrator/language/da-DK	
chmod 777 administrator/language/nl-NL	
chmod 777 administrator/language/ja-JP	
chmod 777 administrator/language/hr-HR	
chmod 777 administrator/language/en-GB	
chmod 777 administrator/language/es-ES	
chmod 777 administrator/language/el-GR	
chmod 777 administrator/language/pt-BR	
chmod 777 administrator/language/de-DE	
chmod 777 administrator/language/overrides	
chmod 777 administrator/language/pl-PL	
chmod 777 administrator/language/ru-RU	
chmod 777 administrator/language/fr-FR	
chmod 777 administrator/language/it-IT	
chmod 777 administrator/manifests/files	
chmod 777 administrator/manifests/packages	
chmod 777 administrator/manifests/libraries	
chmod 777 administrator/modules	
chmod 777 administrator/templates	
chmod 777 components	
chmod 777 images	
chmod 777 images/jsn_is_thumbs	
chmod 777 images/content	
chmod 777 images/headers	
chmod 777 images/stories	
chmod 777 images/sampledata	
chmod 777 images/extensions	
chmod 777 images/cliparts	
chmod 777 images/banners	
chmod 777 language	
chmod 777 language/en-GB	
chmod 777 language/overrides	
chmod 777 libraries	
chmod 777 media	
chmod 777 modules	
chmod 777 plugins	
chmod 777 plugins/jsnimageshow	
chmod 777 plugins/search	
chmod 777 plugins/content	
chmod 777 plugins/extension	
chmod 777 plugins/system	
chmod 777 plugins/editors	
chmod 777 plugins/jsnpoweradmin	
chmod 777 plugins/editors-xtd	
chmod 777 plugins/quickicon	
chmod 777 plugins/user	
chmod 777 plugins/twofactorauth	
chmod 777 plugins/authentication	
chmod 777 plugins/captcha	
chmod 777 plugins/finder	
chmod 777 templates	
chmod 777 configuration.php	
chmod 777 cache
chmod 777 administrator/cache
chmod 777 logs
chmod 777 tmp

after you installed the joomla components don't forget to set the folder permission to 0644

chown www-data:www-data -R *          # Let apache be owner
find . -type d -exec chmod 755 {} \;  # Change directory permissions rwxr-xr-x
find . -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \;  # Change file permissions rw-r--r--

taken from http://stackoverflow.com/questions/18352682/correct-file-permissions-for-wordpress