A thin film of a power-law fluid flowing down a porous inclined plane is considered. It is assumed that the flow through the porous medium is governed by the modified Darcy's law together with Beavers-Joseph boundary condition for a general power-law fluid. Under the assumption of small permeability relative to the thickness of the overlying fluid layer, the flow is decoupled from the filtration flow through the porous medium and a slip condition at the bottom is used to incorporate the effects of the permeability of the porous substrate. Applying the long-wave theory, a nonlinear evolution equation for the thickness of the film is obtained. A linear stability analysis of the base flow is performed and the critical condition for the onset of instability is obtained. The results show that the substrate porosity in general destabilizes the film flow system and the shear-thinning rheology enhances this destabilizing effect. A weakly nonlinear stability analysis reveals the existence of supercritical stable and subcritical unstable regions in the wave number versus Reynolds number parameter space. The numerical solution of the nonlinear evolution equation in a periodic domain shows that the fully developed nonlinear solutions are either time-dependent modes that oscillate slightly in the amplitude or time independent stable two-dimensional nonlinear waves with large amplitude referred to as 'permanent waves'. The results show that the shape and the amplitude of the nonlinear waves are strongly influenced by the permeability of the porous medium and the shear-thinning rheology. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.