When I switched to git for the first time I had a very hard time understanding what rebasing did to a point where I totally avoided it. I had been doing all my work on private and public repositories by going to master and merging to my feature branch or to a team member’s branch. I was happy with this way of working until I started on my new job a few months ago and they had a rebase based workflow. It goes something like this:

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cd repo
git pull --rebase
// Do some work and add stage it
git commit -m 'Some message'
git pull --rebase
git push origin master

In this little example I am working in my local master branch, but if I wanted I could create a feature branch and rebase it to master as needed. The most obvious benefit about this workflow is a very clean history. Lets look at a simple example of a merge based history:

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*   a1b2bbf - (HEAD, master) Merge branch 'feature' (2013-08-28 20:31:08 -0700) <Adrian>
|\
| * 1337ff1 - Commit on branch (2013-08-28 20:30:17 -0700) <Adrian>
* | 76aa59b - Other commit on master (2013-08-28 20:30:55 -0700) <Adrian>
|/
* e4f0a29 - One commit on master (2013-08-28 20:29:48 -0700) <Adrian>

You can see in this three that commit a1b2bbf is specifically to merge branch master into feature. If we use rebase we can remove this commit from our history. Say that we are on commit e4f0a29, we could follow this flow:

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git checkout -b feature
// Work and add to staging
git commit -m 'Commit on branch'
git checkout master
// Work and add to staging
git commit -m 'Commit on master'
git rebase feature
git branch -d feature

And get this result:

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* 453808e - (HEAD, master) Commit on master (2013-08-28 20:40:09 -0700) <Adrian>
* 1ce21f6 - Commit on branch (2013-08-28 20:38:19 -0700) <Adrian>
* e4f0a29 - One commit on master (2013-08-28 20:29:48 -0700) <Adrian>

You can see that we have all our commits in the master branch and we don’t introduce a useless commit. Although the most obvious benefit is an easier to read history, this approach also makes reverting a change a lot simpler than if you had merged it. At any point in time you will be able to use revert on a commit:

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git revert 1ce21f6
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* aab8830 - (HEAD, master) Revert "Commit on branch" (2013-08-28 20:45:07 -0700) <Adrian>
* 453808e - Commit on master (2013-08-28 20:40:09 -0700) <Adrian>
* 1ce21f6 - Commit on branch (2013-08-28 20:38:19 -0700) <Adrian>
* e4f0a29 - One commit on master (2013-08-28 20:29:48 -0700) <Adrian>
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