I prefer working with channels, which are still missing from the library; but they are trivial to add:
Whenever I use channels, I find I need them to synchronize with each other. For example, I have a Go data structure with a write channel and a separate read channel; how do I avoid a read-after-write hazard?
The simplest solution is to make them the same channel that ships closures, to ensure requests are processed in-order. But then why not just make all channels ship closures, like libdispatch...
As for the signal mask, I'm pretty sure you can just set that using pthreads, and it will apply to the current thread. This is certainly true for the pthreads thread name, which is as deeply as I've investigated myself... the C++ threads library isn't magic. It's just a wrapper round what you'd expect.
Building channels with select functionality is a lot harder.
An interesting thing is the equivalent of pthreads on windows (WinAPI synchronization primitives) actually provides something which has some similarity with select out of the box: WaitForMultipleEvents, which is also quite powerful. However that is also a still a lot harder to work with than Go's channels, since there are additional sources for errors like HANDLE invalidation, which you can't have in Go where channels are garbage collected references.
You can't implement this with non-blocking reads alone. If you would, it would be something like busy spinning and iterating through all select cases and trying none-blocking reads until one succeeds. But that's just not efficient.
You need a mechanism instead which also registers a pending select at each event source and unregisters it when done. And the event source (e.g. channel) must wake up one or more select when it's state changes.
Besides, how do you block in user space when there is nothing to read?
Looping with unblocking reads is plenty fast enough though.
As for waiting on any event without select, adding an optional condition-variable pointer to each channel that is pinged when data arrives is the easiest approach I can think of.
In fact pinging condition-variables after a channel successfully is read is a much more expensive emulation of that same behavior. I'm curious if the Linux kernel actually exports something like that.
I'm not actually sure that the C++ library does anything that pthreads doesn't - maybe std::lock, perhaps? - but it's more convenient to use (and it's not like pthreads is bad to start with...), and the pieces work well and fit together quite nicely. Some good use of move semantics. unique_lock is neat and you can do stuff like vector<thread>.
The C++ thread library works on Windows, too...
There’s std::atomic, which didn’t have a standardized equivalent in pthreads. In lieu of that you’d see some ad-hoc combination of GCC builtins, OS-specific functions, and `volatile`, with the result often not guaranteed to work on architectures other than x86 (if at all). Compared to that, std::atomic is both more flexible and easier to get right. The C ‘backport’, stdatomic.h, is also available on most platforms these days...