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I installed QGIS 1.8 on an Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin virtual machine. everything seems to work fine, but I don't get any of the vector or raster tools that (I assume) are part of the standard installation (e.g. analysis, research, geoprocessing tools) anyone ran into same problem? Is there a way to get these without uninstalling and re-installing the program?

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Do you have python installed? Check if there is a "python console" under plugins menu. – underdark Nov 22 '12 at 7:08
I've seen this happen when a Python update is incompatible with QGIS. Doesn't seem like that's the case this time, but it's a good idea to keep it in mind. – L_Holcombe Dec 22 '12 at 3:42

Click on Plugins > Manage Plugins and look for ftools and Spatial Query Plugin, make sure those are enabled, they provide most of the tools you'll need. You might have to restart QGIS, but there should be a Vector menu after the Plugin menu.

If they are not in Manage Plugins go to Plugins > Python Plugin Installer and search for them there to install the plugins and then enable them as described above.

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Thanks RomaH. I seemed to have done all the right things, except for the restart. Thanks for your help though! – Pielewuiter Nov 25 '12 at 19:42

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