I figured out how to follow the advice on the install page which says:
Due to file system permission restrictions, within Linux and other Unix sytems, and PHP Safe Mode restrictions in order that all users can utilize the Joomla! installers an FTP Layer exists to handle file system manipulation.
Enter an FTP Username and Password with access to the Joomla! root directory, this will be the FTP Account that handles all file system operations when Joomla! requires FTP access to complete a task.
For security reasons, it is best if a separate FTP User Account is created with access only to the Joomla! installation, and not the whole Web server if this option is available to you.
Note: If the installation is on a Windows Operating System the FTP Layer is not required
I added a user for my joomla pages as a system user,
# adduser joomlaftp
then changed its home diretory to the joomla install
# usermod -d /my/joomla/directory joomlaftp
then i installed vsftpd
# apt-get install vsftpd
then i edited the vsftpd config file following this website http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=518293
since i'm only allowing ftp for joomla's use i changed these lines:
# vim /etc/vsftpd.conf
local_enable=YES (this lets local users log in)
userlist_enable=YES (this lets only certain local users log in)
then i created the allowed users file
# vim /etc/vsftpd.allowed_users
and i typed one line in that file:
then i restarted the vsftpd server
# /etc/init.d/vsftpd restart
so now, i can log in with my joomlaftp via normal ftp methods:
(From MAC OS 10.5 leopard terminal)
$ ftp [email protected]
Connected to my.domain.com
220 (vsFTPd 2.0.4)
331 Please specify the password.
but the Joomla Web Installer cant do either Autofind FTP Path or Verify FTP Settings.
I get this error message:
The page at http://my.domain.com
FTP settings are not valid or your FTP server is not compatible with Joomla!:
Could not connect to the FTP server
-ive tried it with and without the Enable FTP File System Layer,
-ive tried it with the server's real IP address
-ive tried it with ports 20,21,22
-ive tried it with and without the FTP Root Path
-ive tried it with and without jailing the user to their local directory (changing chroot_local_user=NO in the vsftp.conf file)
I'm using firefox 18.104.22.168 on a Leopard install of Mac OS 10.5.2 i hope that's not a factor? (I have a version of Joomla 1.0 running on the same server, and i can edit and do administrator things just fine)