How to rebase against another branch overriding conflicts with your own branch changes

July 02, 2015

Quite often I find myself in a situation when I need to rebase my local feature branch containing the latest code against the master, but running git rebase master generates a bunch of conflicts that I am expected to fix manually, though I know that my local feature branch has the latest and greatest and I simply want the changes in my feature branch overwrite the corresponding files in master each time such conflict arises. This usually happens when I am the only committer on the project.

Starting with git version 1.7.3 it became possible to pass a strategy option to git rebase command.

The use of -Xtheirs and -Xours appear to be somewhat counterintuitive, so think of it as telling git which branch code to favor when resolving rebase conflicts. For example, when doing:

# see current branch
$ git branch
* branch-a
# rebase preferring current branch changes merge during conflicts
$ git rebase -Xtheirs branch-b

-Xtheirs will favor your current branch-a code when overwriting merge conflicts, and vice versa -Xours will overwrite merge conflicts with with the code in branch-b.

Similar options exist in git merge command as well, but the meaning of -Xtheirs and -Xours is reversed due to the differences on how git rebase and git merge operate and what they consider ours vs. theirs:

# assuming branch-a is our current version
$ git rebase -Xtheirs branch-b # <- ours: branch-b, theirs: branch-a
$ git merge -Xtheirs branch-b  # <- ours: branch-a, theirs: branch-b

Thus, if you are merging changes from origin/master and would like git to favor your current branch code during merge conflicts, you’d need to do this:

$ git merge -Xours origin/master

Today my environment was:

  • git 2.4.2
  • Mac OS X 10.10.3